‘What I Wish for Every Child’ by Authors and Illustrators who presented at the Celebrate Reading National Conference, The Literature Centre, Fremantle, WA.
Before presenters shared their ‘Wish List’, Australian Children’s Laureate, 2016 to 2017, Leigh Hobbs read a letter from Glenda Millard. She wished all, ‘a wonderful time drenched… in the solace… and joy’ of inspirational creatives.
*photos of Glenda Millard images courtesy of Google.
Leigh Hobbs wished for every school to have a library with a librarian because ‘every school kid deserves one’. For children to be given ‘time’ to create, write, draw and read, free from the ‘pressure of tests and ranking’. His bolshie characters, Old Tom, Mr Chicken and Horrible Harriet continue to befriend kids in libraries, bookstores and throughout the stratosphere.
Meg McKinlay wished for ‘spaces of nothingness’ to allow children ‘dreaming time and creative time’. For children to know that away from the digital world ‘being bored’ was a chance to use their imagination — to think what else could they do. Meg’s fondest childhood memories were jumping on their bikes, exploring the bush and discovering the unexpected.
Gus Gordan wished for ‘all’ kids to have access to books. Books allowed children the chance to see ‘what’s outside themselves, outside their community, outside in the world’ with all its possibilities.
Mark Wilson wished for kids to grow-up into a world he had as a kid. A world with nature’s greatest places, ‘with things called forests and… beaches’. A place where turtles could nest safe from hotel lights. He wanted that sort of world for kids.
Jeannie Baker wished for every ‘single’ child ‘to love and be loved’. For children to have a supportive home, a peaceful environment and ‘to be creative and not be criticised’. To go to school with time to ‘exercise their curiosity… use their imagination’ and find and make things. Jeannie wanted children to think for themselves, play outside and engage with nature with feelings of awe and wonder. Some children experience a fear of nature – ‘Nature deficit syndrome’. ‘What one fears, one destroys. What one loves, one defends.’
Anna Fienberg wished every child to ‘find a friend in a book – in a character’. To have a friend early-on allowed them ‘to feel validated and not so alone’. Access to books allowed children to enjoy the pleasure of reading and to discover where a book could take them.
Kyle Hughes-Odgers wished children ‘time’ to experience creative freedom and a sense of place. To have time in their day with ‘no judgement’ to make whatever they wanted to make using their hands. This ‘promotes creative thinking which promotes critical thinking’ and helps push individual thought. Having ‘time’ to express opinions and views was important as it allowed a sense of validation and that you mattered. All this is away from digital distractions.
Deborah Abela wished for ‘every single child to feel equal, included and accepted’. Regardless of where they came from, gender, size or shape, intelligence, sexuality, disability or ‘a million other things that make us different’. As a kid she was called ‘a wog and a daygo’ and had rocks thrown at her on the way home from school. In her student workshops, kids know they count, are noticed, fit in and that ‘being different really counted’ especially ones who had ‘really good sword fights’.
Literature Centre Education Officer and Conference MC, Sasha Burbridge made a wish for teachers — ‘Time’ in their day to allow kids to ‘enjoy the beauty of Australian books… and appreciate reading for reading sake’. Away from constrictions of the curriculum or whether children have eaten before coming to school.
Congratulations Lesley Reece AM, Director of The Literature Centre, Fremantle. The sold out 2017 Celebrate Reading National Conference was a credit to you and your amazingly formidable team.
Thank you from Jenny Stubbs, Story Arts Festival Ipswich (SAFI) co-ordinator and Vice President Book Links (Qld) Inc. And Maria Parenti-Baldey, primary teacher, writer, blogger at www.bigsisterblogs.com.