Do you have a favourite childhood story? During the September holidays, I visited the National Library of Australia in Canberra to see the Story Time: Australian Children’s Literature Exhibition and had the opportunity to be immersed in many of my childhood favourites. The Story Time Exhibition is presented in association with the National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature and celebrates stories that have been read and shared over decades. It includes 270 objects dating from the colonial period through to the present day and takes audiences on a journey through the history of children’s literature, across time and place – real and imagined.
From Australia’s first picture book ‘A Mother’s Offering to her Children,’ published in 1841 to much-loved characters and the works of great Australian authors and illustrators, I couldn’t help but stand in awe of our rich literary heritage and the privilege we have sharing the joy of reading and the power of stories with the children and young people in our care. The Exhibition runs from 22 August 2019 to 9 February 2020 and is well worth visiting if you are travelling interstate over the holidays. For further details about the Exhibition check out this blog, by Exhibition curator Dr Grace Blakeley-Carroll and this article by Dr Belle Alderman, Emeritus Professor of Children’s Literature at the University of Canberra and Director of the National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature.
Upon return from my visit to Canberra, we received our copy of Story Time Stars: Favourite Characters from Australian Picture Books (2019) written by Stephanie Owen Reeder, a ‘companion’ book, to showcase favourites featured in the Exhibition. Story Time Stars spans 100 years and captures 60 memorable Australian children’s book characters appearing between 1918 and 2018. Each character has its own double-page spread, a typical illustration from the book, story synopsis, its first appearance as a book, on stage or on screen, awards won and other points of interest. I look forward to unpacking this with students over time and showcasing the stars of Australian literature at the library.
Vanessa McKellar, Head of Library Services