Story Box Library

Story Box Library is melding the mediums of film and storytelling to create authentic online literature experiences. Australian content is delivered from a diverse range of storytellers for primary school aged students. The site also includes teacher resources, Australian curriculum links and a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the stories. Teacher librarian Sharon McGuinness has discovered the extensive toolkit of Story Box Library and shares her use of it with us:

I am the teacher librarian at Thirroul PS which is just north of Wollongong on the NSW south coast. We are a school of approximately 360 students across 15 classes, with the vast majority of students speaking English as their first language.

The new NSW based Australian English curriculum, with its emphasis on literature, presents teacher librarians a golden opportunity. At Thirroul, our Stage 1 staff have been working with students using ‘Language, Learning and Literacy’ or L3,a NSW program which encourages the use and study of literature in the classroom. Working with staff, I have further expanded the suggested literature titles and am completing a similar task with regard to the suggested titles within the new curriculum – particularly those featuring sustainability, Australia’s engagement with Asia and Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

My aim is to make it easier for staff to use literature in each classroom and avoid duplicating titles across stages and grades.

Part of this strategy also includes using related online literature resources – whether it be author/illustrator websites, book trailers, interviews or multi modal texts. Story Box Library will bring more of an authentic literature experience into the classroom with its range of online storytelling segments. It also aims to give students the background of how the books are created, and classroom ideas. As a school we have already signed up and teachers are exploring the site, using the online storytelling segments on their interactive whiteboards in the classrooms. Teachers also appreciate the accompanying teaching notes and ideas as this fits in perfectly with our Stage 1 L3 program. I have also added several of the titles on the SL website to our Stage 1 L3 list of suggested texts.

Over the past couple of years, I have noticed the staff’s usage of printed teaching resources greatly decreasing and recognize that staff now rely on resources available online. Story Box Library fills a gap in resourcing online Australian children’s literature.

We are looking forward to the site’s further growth and development as it has the ability to provide us with a ‘one stop shop’ for a range quality Australian children’s literature.

To find out more about the services provided by the site, visit Story Box Library.

New writers in residence on Inside a Dog

Jordi Kerr, Learning Programs Officer at the Centre for Youth Literature talks about upcoming writers in residence on insideadog.

Ever wanted to break into a writer’s mind and find out the true story – how do they do it? What makes them tick? Where did that idea come from? Welcome to insideadog’s Residence blog.

insideadog hosts a different YA writer each month – they hang around the kennel, and write posts that give an insight into their lives and writing process. It’s a unique opportunity for students, regardless of their geographical location, to pick the brains of an author. By commenting on the blog posts, students can interact with professional writers, and have their questions about reading and writing answered.

In March, debut author Myke Bartlett provided candid and humorous explorations of his background and process, as well as exclusive glimpses at some of his unpublished work, and his upcoming sequel to Fire in the Sea.  (You can easily access all of Myke’s posts here.)

Myke has also aptly demonstrated that blog writing is an art form in its own right. In the classroom the Residence blog can be used as a launch pad to discuss and explore how writing for an online audience is different to writing for print. What makes a good blog? How is blog success measured? How can readers be encouraged to become involved?

In April, American graphic novelist (artist and writer) Raina Telgemeier was at the helm. (You may have heard of her multi-award winning book Smile?) If you’ve ever been uncertain about how to introduce graphic novels into your classroom, this is your chance. Raina’s got some great posts from how a graphic novel is born (and raised), advice for budding cartoonists and graphic novel recommendations for young readers. You can access all her posts here.

Insideadog endeavours to publish the names of upcoming resident authors ahead of time, to give teachers the opportunity to prepare and plan. Students can familiarise themselves with the author’s books, and research them online. There is also a blogging worksheet included in the site’s teacher resources, which you can use or adapt to foster discussion.

You may notice that over the next few months the writers hosted on insideadog are also involved in our Reading Matters Student Day program. For those students lucky enough to be attending Reading Matters, the residence blog gives them a chance to get to know the authors beforehand.

Can eReaders Encourage Reading?

A recent study from the Pew Research Center focussed on the growing popularity of eReaders. The Rise of e-reading confirmed a significant increase in users – 21% of adults had read an eBook in the past year. Their research also found that eBook readers read more books (both formats) and read more often.

These are the types of results that catch a Teacher Librarian’s attention. Could this also be true for students? Might eBook readers be a way to encourage reluctant readers to read more and/or read more often? This might be the case.

In 2012, SMU conducted a study with middle years students who struggled with reading. They found that eReaders motivated students to read, but there were marked gender differences. While both studies were conducted in America, they are valuable reading for Teachers and Teacher Librarians making pedagogical and acquisition decisions as  Australian schools introduce 1:1 iPad and BYOD programs.

Reading Matters 2013

The schedule for Reading Matters 2013 is now available, boasting an impressive line up of emerging and established authors from across Australia and the world.

One of the themes explored this year is story told through different mediums with speakers including poet Tim Sinclair, games developer Paul Callaghan and American graphic novelist Raina Telgemeier.

The conference will also explore adults and teens within the YA context and gatekeeping – who decides what teens can, can’t and should read?

International guests include:

Libba Bray (UK), author of the Gemma Doyle trilogy and Going Bovine

Gayle Forman (US), author of If I stay and sequel, Where she went

Keith Gray (UK), author of Creepers.

To find out more about the program and how to book visit the State Library of Victoria website or contact the Centre for Youth Literature on 8664 7014 or email youthlit@slv.vic.gov.au.

Lizzie Bennet Diaries: transmedia story telling

In this guest post Centre for Youth Literature Program Coordinator, Adele Walsh talks about The Lizzie Bennet Diaries – an amazing example of transmedia story telling.

When you think of Lizzie Bennet, most see a tome of Pride and Prejudice or Jennifer Ehle slowly coaxing a smile out of Colin Firth in the last scene of the BBC adaptation. Since April last year, the two hundred year old character has undergone a radical makeover in the form of a hugely successful web series.

Hank Green, one half of the Nerdfighting duo with brother John Green, and head writer Bernie Su, have created The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a web series that lovingly references the classic text while reflecting life today and social media trends. LBD, as it’s known, has also created a staggeringly engaged online community.

It’s a perfect example of highly successful transmedia at work – a series of web tools that integrates the elements of narrative to create unique content based on existing (and out of copyright) properties.

Remaining loyal to the structure of Jane Austen’s work, Hank and Bernie have followed the same narrative arc, but have adapted characters and motivations so they make sense today and fit the medium. For instance, there are only three Bennet sisters in LBD – Lizzie (our fearless vlogging protagonist), Jane (timid but lovely) and Lydia (irrepressible and endearing). Mary makes an appearance as a cousin with Kitty as the family pet. Every change to the original is done with love and humour, it never mocks its source material.

Marriage proposals are now job offers, estates become large corporations and as for the shocking Wickham/Bennet development….well, our lips are sealed.

Green and Su have also integrated different social media platforms to develop characters and events from outside Lizzie’s perspective. Each character has a Twitter account composed by the series’ writing team where they interact with the public and each other. Jane works in fashion so her outfits and inspiration are posted on her Tumblr and Lookbook accounts.

Jane Bennet on Lookbook

Lydia starts her own web series to have a share of the spotlight but what starts out as an exercise in narcissism becomes something else entirely. Lydia Bennet has never been as beloved as she has in this form of Pride and Prejudice. The appearance of the characters (and cast) at last year’s VidCon brought real and imagined worlds together in a way that tickled the funny bone and imagination of the LBD audience.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries appeals to new and established audiences. Many of the teens and adults who have gravitated to the series have no pre-existing knowledge of the story so every new episode is a revelation. The dialogue, acting and variations in the story give viewers familiar with the novel a new experience which often challenges them to think about characters in a different way.

The series also encourages audience participation. Viewers are actively involved in the characters’ lives – giving Lydia advice (or warnings…) in YouTube comments, chatting with characters on Twitter and pestering creators to hurry up and introduce Darcy!

One of the most interesting spin-offs from LBD is the fan group, The LBD Seahorses. Before Lydia’s fall from grace, fans couldn’t agree which tragedy would ruin her in a contemporary setting. Pregnancy seemed to be the frontrunner. The question was then asked, “What would Darcy even do to help the situation?” To which someone replied, “He’d offer to carry the baby for her.” “Oh, so he’s going to become a seahorse?”

And so the niche group was born.

LBD Seahorses group on Twitter

While it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, and not all LBD fans love it, the group is a great example of how web based media evolves. In a recent Lizzie Bennet Q&A session there was even a shout out for this fan group.

The creators couldn’t have anticipated the audience driven art, discussions and interests inspired by the series. The actress who plays Jane often styles her hair using ideas from the World War II era prompting questions about how she does it.  Jane posted on Pinterest and made video tutorials so now fans are wearing elaborate hair styles like Victory rolls and milk maid braids.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries project is slowly coming to an end. This week celebrates the 91st episode and (almost) a year of continuous, free narrative-based content. Who would have imagined that a series of 3-5 minute videos and social media channels based on a classic reimagined text would so firmly capture young people’s attention?

Hank Green and Bernie Su did.

The big question is which classic will they tackle next?

 

Bookish

Bookish website

Bookish is a new book recommendation and e-commerce site competing with the likes of GoodreadsLibrary thing and Amazon. Although some question the effectiveness of these sites, Bookish promises a different experience based on the resources and expertise available to publishers driving the project.

Bookish is a collaboration between a group of major publishers  claiming their recommendations engine, with input from real editors, is the best yet. With publishing heavyweights like Penguin, Random House and Scholastic on board, the site has already collected an impressive list of contributors, 400 000 author profiles and 1.2 million books in their catalogue.

At this stage, Bookish is leaving the social aspect of recommendations to established sites like Goodreads although they do link to Facebook. Their focus is editorial content – delivering magazine style essays, articles, news and reviews written by authors and professional editors.

Bookish represents an interesting commercial model for publishers to position themselves as an alternative to community based book recommendation sites. Whether Bookish stays impartial, only time will tell.

Slightly addicted to fiction

Judi Jagger, the current Western Australian Children’s Book Council judge, has developed her own blog. It is a must read for anyone interested in children’s and YA literature. Judi explains how her blog came to be:

Slightly Addicted to Fiction was born on a wet Saturday afternoon in mid November. It has sprung from the Fiction Focus blog that I started while working in Western Australia’s CMIS as joint editor of the print journal Fiction Focus. When I moved away from the city, the late and much-missed Jill Midolo arranged for me to maintain the blog from home; a dream job.

Although I always knew it was too good to last, the sudden loss of funding for the FF blog still came as a shock. One minute I was maintaining a blog that had secured a global readership, the next minute I wasn’t.

The blog itself hadn’t ceased, just my role. The many comments of support that flowed in were both affirming and humbling.

For a day or two, I did nothing. Then I put my toe in the Twitter water and hastily withdrew. Too ephemeral. Tweeting the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards was fine, but I longed to set them in the context of other awards on the blogging record. So an impulsive decision on that wet Saturday afternoon saw me set up my own forum. Once a blogger…

On Slightly Addicted to Fiction, I will continue what had been a successful formula: news about literature-related matters. I will continue the weekly links, expanding them into a broader context to encompass news about literary and children’s and Young Adult fiction.

Screen shot 2010-12-12 at 9.56.56 AM

I have also ventured back on to Twitter with a new identity (@readingjay) and am loving the cleverness of paper.li that publishes a daily newspaper http://paper.li/readingjay that magically selects interesting posts from the people I follow. Each day it produces an attractive publication that regularly surprises me with its useful content. Blogging and Twitter: the ideal couple.

Readership of Slightly Addicted to Fiction is building slowly but it is something I feel compelled to do, with or without a large audience.

My former CMIS colleagues have a heavy workload and are doing a great job maintaining the first blog. I see the two as complementary and together will provide a useful resource for schools to keep their finger on the pulse of the literary world.

What was a job has become a hobby, but remains my passion. Slightly addicted to fiction – it’s an understatement.

Congratulations to Judi on her past and present contribution to Australian and global children’s and YA literature. And may we all be “slightly addicted to fiction”!

Strathmore SC library blog

Aneta Curcija and staff at Strathmore Secondary College library have recently set up their own library blog.

Screen shot 2010-11-09 at 9.06

Like many participants of the Vic PLN course, my colleague here at Strathmore Secondary College, Wendy Moyle and I, learned so much about Web 2.0 tools and how to effectively use them, not just to encourage reading but also to promote our wonderful library.  We wanted a platform whereby we could recommend books through genres and also give students the opportunity to share their reading experiences by interacting with one another and discuss books they loved, hated or were just plain disappointed in.  We also hope to interest Year 7 and 8 English teachers to engage their students through this blog and encourage a love of reading.Â

This blog is fairly new and we are keen to start some kind of initiative with English teachers early next year.  For now we are content with posting book recommendations and interesting links and videos and using fabulous Web 2.0 tools to show our current library displays.  The response has been very positive from teachers and we are yet to hear what students think of it via the comments box.  Hopefully as the blog is promoted more and more, we might get some responses from the kids.  Here’s hoping!

I would also like to acknowledge the library staff at Sacred Heart College in Geelong for their creative way of naming their book genres which has given me the inspiration to do something similar and show that books can be categorised in fun and humorous ways.

Well done on the creation of your excellent blog Aneta and Wendy and I hope that the students and staff at Strathmore become as passionate about the blog as you are.

i.Read

Susan Mapleson, a Teacher Librarian at Christian College (Senior Campus) Geelong has developed a very funky blog for lovers of literature. The i.Read blog is cleverly titled and has been developing nicely throughout the year.

Screen shot 2010-12-05 at 12.18.33 PM

Susan explains how the blog came about:

I completed the SLAV PLN program earlier in the year and while this is not the blog I started during the PLN program is it the more meaningful and relevant blog I started along with Deb Canaway (the other Teacher Librarian here at the senior campus) during the year and includes many of the tools I learnt doing the program.

We started our blog for the students and teachers at Christian College Senior school and while we have not been overwhelmed with responses, certainly we have had many people access our blog.

It was aimed mainly at our Year 10 English classes who come to the Library usually at the beginning and end of the  term to borrow books. It was another way to interact with the students, promote the Library and recommend books to students as we only review books we have in the Library. Year 10 students had to write a book review as part of their English curriculum and also submit a brief version onto the blog. The positive of this task was that the students got a real buzz out of seeing their reviews online and for many it was the first time they had read and or contributed to a blog.

In the future we would like to have our staff also contribute to the blog and find more ways to encourage students to leave comments.

Congratulations Sue and Deb for creating a vibrant and attractive blog. Now that the blog has a good body of work, it will be easier to promote it in the new year.