I might have been born in Victoria, but I am a Queenslander at heart. Just for the next few weeks though I wish I was down south! Over the coming weeks, major libraries around Melbourne will host a series of special ‘Babies Love Books’ events as part of the State Government’s $2.1 million Young Readers Program. Now in its second year, the Young Readers Program has distributed free ‘It’s Rhyme Time’ booklets and DVDs to parents of over 200,000 babies and toddlers. The program aims to reach 500,000 children by 2011, and to assist in fostering a love of books for life, linking the relationship between literacy and the health and wellbeing of future generations.
Alison Lester, multi-award winning, best selling and much loved children’s author and illustrator is an ambassador for the program. Her picture books mix imaginary worlds with everyday life, encouraging children to believe in themselves and celebrate the differences that make them special. If you live in Victoria you can meet Alison Lester this month at the events listed below. But if, like me, you are elsewhere in the country, you’ll have to be content to read my interview with Alison Lester:
Cath - When should parents begin reading aloud to their kids, and what can they do to make the most of read-aloud time?
Alison - I think you should start reading to babies from the word go, or maybe even before. Lazing around reading when you’re pregnant must be very good for babies. To make the most of reading time it’s good to take it slow and cuddly. Always get as close to horizontal as you can.
Cath - What do you recommend parents look for when selecting picture books for young children?
Alison - I shouldn’t say this, being an author, but I don’t really think it matters what you read them as long as you do it well. Children will always let you know if they think a book is a dud.
Cath - Many of your picture books are firm favourites with Australian children and adults alike. As a mother my pick is Magic Beach. As a teacher my favourite would be Imagine. Do you have a favourite?
Alison - It’s a bit like having to say which one of your kids you like the best. They are all special in different ways. I love Are We There Yet? because it reminds me of the happy time we had on that trip.
Cath - As an author/illustrator, do the words come first, images first, or does the book evolve as a whole for you?
Alison – When I have an idea for a book I can generally see it then, as a whole, the style of illustration, the font, the shape and size. The next step is some rough illustrations in a dummy book and then I put the text into my computer.
Cath - You’ve spent a lot of time travelling the country visiting schools, particularly in remote areas. Why has this been important to you?
Alison - I started visiting schools about 30 years ago, just because they asked me really. Now I can see that those school visits did a lot to get my books out into the world. I love going to remote communities and working with the kids and teachers there. I always get a huge kick out of seeing a class make a book about their own stories, told in their words and their pictures.
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If you live in Victoria you can meet Alison Lester or Jeannette Rowe this month at the Young Readers Program Babies Love Books events :
Monday July 12th, 2pm
411 Springvale Road, Springvale
P: 03 9238 1466
Frankston Library with Alison Lester
Tuesday July 13th, 11am
60 Playne Street, Frankston
P: 03 9784 1020
Deer Park Library with Jeannette Rowe
Thursday July 15th, 10.30am
Corner of Neale and Station Roads, Deer Park
P: 03 9249 4171
Sunbury Library, with Jeannette Rowe
Friday July 16th, 10am
44 Macedon St, Sunbury
P: 03 9356 6932
If you go, please do me a favour and tell the awesome Alison Lester that SquiggleMum says hi…?! I’m going to head back over to her site because I’m thinking about buying this print.