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Reading a super power

23 Aug 2019

Love of books shines through for Book Week

Red Hill Primary School teacher librarian Emma Cox has a love of books, Book Week and – of course – reading!
Red Hill Primary School teacher librarian Emma Cox has a love of books, Book Week and – of course – reading! (Photo: Supplied)

There is a special buzz in the air for everyone across schools during Book Week. For educators like Emma Cox from Red Hill Primary School, this buzz is heightened.

As a teacher librarian, avid reader and unashamed book lover, Book Week is Emma’s favourite time of time of the school year.

“Literature and reading are at the centre of my work and the work of my teaching colleagues year-round - but at no other time does it assume celebrity status,” Emma said. “Around Book Week, the library is where it’s at!”

Most people, even those who aren’t big readers, have a soft spot and fond memories of books from their childhood. Those connections - developed by sharing books with parents, teachers or others - linger long after the pages close. For Emma, one specific title resonates.

“I have fond memories of being snuggled up with my mother as she read Possum Magic by Mem Fox and Julie Vivas back when it was a newly published title! I recall being amazed that those familiar foods and places became magical - and the vanishing tail? What a story!” Emma said.

In 2018 Emma completed a Master of Education (Teacher Librarianship) through Charles Sturt University, supported by an ACT Education Directorate scholarship. Emma’s teaching career and experiences have taken her through primary schools in Canberra and overseas. Her journey has instilled in her the importance of literature for pleasure and for learning.

“In particular, picture books have evolved since my childhood, they are my favourite tool for exploring complex themes in ways that are accessible for children across age groups. The best ones are those that can be read over and over to provide something new each time. Books like Room on our rock by Kate and Jol Temple and Terri Rose Baynton which can literally be read forwards and backwards for two stories related to social justice, or Fox by Margaret Wild and Ron Brooks a rich story about friendship and loyalty. As educators we have access to truly wonderful Australian literature to share with our students,” Emma says.

As an educator in ACT public schools, Emma knows that strong literacy skills support all aspects of a child’s wellbeing, learning and development, not to mention building vocabulary, and the critical and creative thinking skills needed in the 21st century landscape.

“From a curriculum learning point of view, teachers recognise that literature is a tremendously effective way to tap into a student’s prior experiences, initiate a conversation and explore subject matter,” Emma said. “All the teachers I work with are regularly in their school libraries, cleverly planning learning opportunities that feature literature for both its content and its literacy learning value.

“Lucky for us, we are spoilt for choice.”

For Emma, it is Book Week all year round.

“Being a teacher librarian is the best teaching gig there is - not only do I get to share amazing stories with students every day, but I get to share my love of reading and support learning in my school community,” Emma said.

“That’s a secret power worth celebrating!”