Reading – Choosing what to read in the holidays?

It is the end of Semester 1 and our 2 week holiday period is almost here. Many of the boys have been asked to read over the holidays and classes have come to the library for them to find something.

We have e-books as well as hardcopy books. Many of our boys like the later and subject matter and the cover play a part in their choice but for some it is the size of the book (number of pages) that is the deciding factor. We often explain to these boys that if the book does not interest them then the book will be too long whatever the length. It is with these thoughts in mind that I came across the following infographic.

It is an interesting take on recommending reading material and is based on the “average” person’s reading speed (300 words per minute) and the number of words in the novel. Of course reading difficulty would also come into play so it offers only a rough guide to the times suggested but I thought it might make an interesting talking point if i showed it in the library.

Please include attribution to with this graphic.

How Long Does it Take to Read



The 2014 Inky’s and YASLA Teens’ Top Ten

This week we had the announcement of some YA literature awards. First I was pleased to see the announcement of the winners of the Gold  and Silver Inky Awards. The Inkys are awards for teenage (or YA) novels and are co-ordinated by the Centre for Youth Literature at the State Library of Victoria via insideadog. This year we was the 8th year of the Awards that are voted for online by the readers (who are under 20) of who can be from anywhere in the world. You can look at the titles on this year’s long and short lists and also go back to previous years lists and there are links to previous lists from here.  There have been many wonderful titles that have made these lists so all are worth a look even if they are not the eventual winners. The 2014 winners: The First Third by Will Kostakis and   All the Truth That’s in Me by Julie Berry

  • Gold Inky Award (Australian book): The First Third by Will Kostakis The second novel from the author and it is this is both a funny and sad book about families and adolescence. The main character, part of a Greek-Australian family, is 17 year old  BillyTsiolkas.
    • Publisher’s website with teaching notes here.
    • Melina Marchetta interviews Will Kostakis here.
  • Will Kostakis tells us about his book ‘The First Third’ in the video below

  • Silver Inky Award (International book): All the Truth That’s in Me by Julie Berry  Abducted 4 years previously, Judith is back but  has been mutilated by her abductor, who also murdered her friend. Shunned by the people around her she has to decide if she can regain her voice even if it changes everything around her. A very powerful story.  In the video below, author Julie Berry introduces the novel, “All the Truth That’s In Me.”

We have both these books in our library. They have been read students at our school over the last few months and they would agree that they are great stories.

A few days ago the YALSA’s 2014 Teens’ Top Ten titles were also announced. This Teen Choice list engaged Teens’ Top Ten book groups in sixteen school and public libraries around the country in reading and voting. The selected titles will also be included on the  Teen Book Finder App. It is now available for Android as well as iOS devices and anything that helps encourages my students to read is something I encourage. This app also offers a way to broaden the reading lists of my students in Australia by publicizing and promoting a broader range of book titles than they might otherwise see in the local library.

CBCA 2014 Books of the Year – Winners and runners-up

Congratulations to the authors and illustrators of the books below. To their editors and publishers and also the CBCA judges.

The CBCA winning books for 2014 voted on by the judges, were announced this afternoon. The judges have a difficult job and I know that a lot of deliberation and discassion has gone on. The CBCA awards are given to works that are the benchmarks for quality in Australian children’s literature. The books that made to this short list are being read and enjoyed by the boys. I wrote a post about the older readers shortlist with links for follow-up earlier in the year.  As is usually the case the books chosen this year were quite varied in their styles and subject matter.

The 2014 CBCA Book of the Year awards have been given to the authors and illustrators in the following five categories from older readers to early childhood

Older readers

Winner: Wildlife by Fiona WoodShortlist

Honour Books

  • Fairytales for Wilde Girls by Allyse Near
  • The Sky so Heavy by Claire Zorn


Younger readers

City of Orphans - A very unusual pursuit -smlWinner: City of Orphans: A very unusual pursuit by Catherine Jinks. Catherine has an interesting page about the title, there are teaching notes and, from the Allen and Unwin site, there are Reviews by teachers (PDF) also.

Honour Books

 Early Childhood

Winner: The Swap by Jan Ormerod and Andrew Joyner.  Teacher notes here 

Honour Books:

 Picture book

Rules Of Summer-smlWinner: Rule of Summer by Shaun Tan. I am so pleased that another wonderful book by the brilliant author Shaun Tan won this section. There are some great resources  – my post with links including to videos, a teachers’ guide here and a podcast on The art of Shaun Tan.

Honour Books

 Eve Pownell Award for Information Books

Winner: Jeremy by Christopher Faille

Honour Books

CBCA 2013 Books of the Year: Winners and runners-up

After several months of speculation the CBCA award winners for 2013 have been announced. The CBCA awards are given to works that are the benchmarks for quality in Australian children’s literature. Even making the short list guarantees that there will be attention given to these works.  In two posts about the 2013 shortlists ( older readers and younger readers) I wrote about these books and offered links to follow up each of them. The books chosen this year were quite varied in their styles and subject matter.

The winners and honour books have a gold medallion put onto the covers and they will be bought by schools for their libraries and their use in classes, public libraries and parents (and relatives) of young people.

The 2013 CBCA Book of the Year awards have been given to the authors and illustrators in the following five categories from older readers to early childhood.



Winner: Sea Hearts  by Margo Lanagan 

Honour books: 


The_children_of_the_kingWinner: Children of the King    by Sonya Hartnett

Honour books: 


Winner: The Terrible Suitcase  by Emma Allen & Freya Blackwood (Illus)  Teacher’s notes have been written for this book

Honour books: 

  • With Nan by Tania Cox  and Karen Blair
  • Too Many Elephants in This House by Ursula Dubosarsky and Andrew Joyner


Winner: The Coat  by Ron Brooks (illus) and Julie Hunt. Also available: Teacher Notes and Teacher reviews 

Honour books:

  • Herman and Rosie by Gus Gordon
  • Sophie Scott Goes South by Alison Lester


Winner: Tom the Outback Mailman by Kristin Weidenbach and Timothy Ide. Also available: Teacher Notes 

Honour books:

  • Lyrebird! A True Story  by Jackie Kerin and Peter Gouldthrope
  • Topsy Turvy World: How Australian Animals Puzzled Early Explorers by Kirsty Murray

CBCA Book of the Year 2012 – Older Readers Winners & the others on the Shortlist

Over the weekend I reflected on the winners and the shortlist in general. They were books that had appealed to many of our boys but it was interesting that the winners were mainly male authors, Ursula Dubosarky being the exception. This seems to remind me of a criticism of some other writers awards. Does it mean anything, probably not, and the judges were all female this year – so would there be a bias? As always I suppose there will be some discussion about what missed out and what was declared the winner but I have no complaints and I will be able to “sell” all of them to our students.

My favourite, Goliath (part of the Leviathan series)by Scott Westerfeld didn’t make the shortlist but I do like to read Robert Newton (Runner – set in Richmond in the early 1900’s and The Black Dog Gang, early Sydney) and Scot Gardner (One Dead Seagull and White Ute Dreaming amongst others). Both these authors have done a lot to encourage our boys here to read. Scot Garner has also been to the school in the past to talk to bots about writing. Many were very impressed and his books flew off the shelves for the next few months. Bill Condon has written some very interesting books but a smaller number of our readers seem to like to read his works.

It was also interesting that the publisher who had the most success this year was Allen and Unwin. I seem to think that Penguin have been the dominant publisher in the past. Allen and Unwin have certainly  been very proactive in supporting some good Australian authors.

You can listen to a great podcast recorded by two judges, Trisha Buckley (2012 QLD judge) and Tehani Wessley (2012 WA judge), on the Book Nut Blog. They recorded their discussion on the shortlist for the 2012 CBCA Older Readers category a week before the winners were announced. They were very careful and there were no spoilers before the winners were announced. You can find the podcast on iTunes by searching The Book Nut or access via the Podbean website here

The Winner

Gardner, Scot  The Dead I Know

Find more information about Scot Gardner on the author’s homepage here. Read a review here. The publisher has downloadable notes for teachers and teacher reviews available on their site. Readingjay‘s review here and ReadPlus review

Honour Books

Newton, Robert

When We Were Two

The publisher’s page has some information. Read a review from the Fancy Goods site and a review from ReadPlus.

Condon, Bill  A Straight Line to my Heart

Find more information about Bill Condon on his website. Read a review here and another from Read Plus. The publisher has downloadable notes for teachers and teacher reviews available on their site.

Other shortlisted books:

Bauer, Michael Gerard  Ishmael and the Hoops of Steel

Find more information about on the author’s homepage. Reviewed on the Good Reads site here.

Dubosarsky, Ursula  The Golden Day

Find more information about the author on her website. Read a review here. The publisher has downloadable notes for teachers and teacher reviews available on their site. Listen to Ursula Dubosarsky discussing The Golden Day on ABC Radio National’s The Book Show. You can also watch the BookTrailer

McGahan, Andrew  Ship Kings: The Coming of the Whirlpool

The author has a “mini site” as part of the Allen&Unwin site. Review here There is a Radio National podcast of an author interview available to listen to and you can read an interview with Andrew McGahan about The Coming of the Whirlpool (the Fancy Goods blog). There is also a discussion by the author on the Readings site here. The publisher offers downloadable notes for teachers and teacher reviews available on their site.