Reading for Social Peace Marketplace of Ideas

As part of the Yarra Plenty Regional Library and Wilkins Farago’s project, Reading for Social Peace, Yarra Plenty have created this exciting series of events for their Marketplace of Ideas conference.

Can you imagine a world at peace? Come along to the three events in this Marketplace of Ideas series and challenge your thinking, share ideas and help create a plan for a peaceful future.

Same Sex Relationships – Do We Judge?
Ivanhoe Library
Monday 17 June
7.00pm – 9.00pm

Welcoming New Community
With Author Alice Garner

Thomastown Library
Thursday 20 June
10.00am – 12.00noon

Physical and Mental Disability – Are We Inclusive?
Eltham Library
Saturday 22 June
2.00pm – 4.30pm

Displays, showbags, giveaways, and more…

To find out more about the Reading for Social Peace Project and organise your own event, visit:

Emma Baker reveals the secrets of the incredibly popular ‘Storytime’ program at the State Library of Victoria

ImageWe are excited to announce our second Reading For Social Peace event as part of the State Library’s Storytime program, Wednesday June 12th. Emma Baker, the State Library Family Programs Officer, will be reading Cali and Foli’s powerful picture book The Bear with the Sword  to up to 150 families.

Emma tells us the story about how this program became so successful…

Q1: Emma, what was the inspiration behind the Storytime Program at the State Library?

I think it’s never too early to start reading with your children! Our Baby Bounce and Storytime programs encourage parents to engage with their children through stories, songs and activities, making these a part of their everyday life. Our goal is to encourage literacy at a young age and create a lifelong love of books and reading.

Q2: How has it evolved since it first started?

ImageInitially these programs were run once a month and we were lucky if ten people came. I think this began to change when the Library curated, Look! The Art of the Australian Picture Book, which displayed artworks by illustrators such as Shaun Tan, Graeme Base, and Alison Lester. It was an exhibition aimed at families and helped raise awareness of the Library as a place for children.

Three years on, our programs now run every week (in Experimedia) with 120-150 families joining us each session. It’s great to have built such close relationship with our families and to be able to watch as their child grow and learn through play.

Q3: What makes it so successful in your opinion? Why is it so important?

I think there are three key elements to the success of the program. Firstly, the staff involved are knowledgeable and passionate about working with children and families. We provide a fun and friendly environment, where parents learn how easy it is to continue the program at home.

Secondly, we have engaged parents who actively join in to enrich their child’s learning. It’s amazing when there are 150 children and families singing ‘If You’re Happy and You Know It’, and it doesn’t matter if you can’t sing- I certainly can’t! By role modeling for your child, it gives them confidence and strengthens the bond you have with them.

Finally, our Storytimes would not be possible without the wonderful team of volunteers we have. Whether they’re welcoming families, doing the Hokey Pokey, or helping children make their very own Hungry Caterpillar, they assist with the smooth delivery of our programs.  

Q4: Who are the events open to? Who is your biggest audience?

Our programs are for anyone with very young children and who after a fun, free and regular event.  Baby Bounce focuses on the early introduction of lullabies and rhymes to newborns and children up two years, while Storytime focuses on those more active preschoolers who have energy to burn.

The programs are also incredibly multicultural – we have families of all backgrounds attending. In that way we provide a community ‘hub’ in a sense where everyone can build friendships and share their culture, as well as learn English along the way.

Q5: We loved what you did when reading out our picture book Empty Fridge at the Gusto Family Day, how will you work with Bear With the Sword for World Environment Day (Weds 5th June)?


Similar to Empty Fridge, we will be re-enacting Bear With the Sword for our younger audience at Storytime. I think it’s important for children to gain awareness about these particular environmental topics and when it’s presented using a method such as storytelling – it really engages them.

Emma Baker reading Empty Fridge as part of Social Inclusion Week 2012


Q6: What is your favourite children’s book?

ImageThere are so many to choose from, but I think it would have to be a tie between Christopher Milne’s Naughty Stories for Good Boys and Girls and The Runaway Hug by Nick Bland and Freya Blackwood. Growing up, I loved reading Milne’s hilarious short stories about cheeky children who got up to all kinds of mischief and wishing I could be just as daring! And The Runaway Hug is one of those books I would recommend every parent have as part of their children’s book collection. Bland’s story and Blackwood’s beautiful illustrations just take your breath away.


If you would like to join Emma Baker for ‘The Bear with the Sword’ Storytime head to the State Library of Victoria, Wednesday June 12th for a 11.30 start.                                  

Venue: Experimedia, Main Entry, Swanston Street.

Social Inclusion week at the Gusto! exhibition

Watch an interactive reading of ‘Empty Fridge’ by Emma Baker, Family Program Officer at the State Library Victoria, as part of Gusto! Family Day during Social Inclusion Week.

Story Time Empty Fridge500

Emma and her lovely support team of volunteers opened Story Time at the library with energetic songs about Spaghetti Bolognaise and, of course, Vegemite (the original hand-written music to the Vegemite song is displayed in the Gusto! exhibition).

With a toy oven, mixing bowl, spoon and hand-made vegetable props to make the quiche from the ‘Empty Fridge’ story, Emma’s lively and interactive reading had everyone involved!

Touring the Gusto! Exhibition500

After more songs and a workshop to make your own apron, families were invited to go on tour of the State Library’s Gusto! exhibition.

The Family Day celebrations finished on the library forecourt where The Little Veggie Patch Co had set up two vegetable gardens connected by an archway. The children and parents were fascinated to hear about how to grow their own vegetables at home. After one last sing along to the ‘good bye’ song everyone left with a quiche recipe and pack of seeds to get started at home.

Story team at the State Library500

The State Library ‘Story Time’ Team

The Little Veggie Patch Co

The Little Veggie Patch Co teaching families about the importance of growing your own food.

Recipe card and seeds

Seeds and quiche recipe give aways encouraging social inclusion through; growing your own food; cooking together; and sharing food with friends, family and neighbours.

Social Inclusion Week Team (Owen, Emma SLV, Justine WF)

Owen, Emma (State Library) and Justine (Wilkins Farago) with the Social Inclusion Week Panda!

‘Empty Fridge’ is Readings’ Kids Book of the Month

Readings Kids Book of the Month

New book alert! Our latest kids picture book, Empty Fridge by Gaetan Doremus, is released today. We’re delighted to announce it has been selected by Readings Books Music Film as their Kids Book of the Month for August.

Here it is proudly featured on the front cover of the new Readings Monthly newsletter (right).

Angela Crocombe, children’s book buyer at Readings St Kilda, also reviews the book inside. Here’s an extract from her review:

It’s been a busy day, you haven’t even thought of dinner, and when you look in the fridge it’s empty. What to do? How about visiting the neighbours to see if together you might have enough food to make a meal? That is the simple premise of this delightful picture book set in a busy five-storey apartment block …

This beautiful evocation of modern living and the pleasures of sharing by French author and illustrator Gaetan Doremus was first published in France and won a prominent kids’ choice award there in 2010. It has been lovingly translated and published in English so that now everyone from three-year-olds to adults can enjoy its delectable delights!

  • You can read the full review, and buy the book from Readings’ online store, here. (It’s always better to buy a book from someone who cares.)
  • To view inside the book, click here.

Out today!

Sign up for our special e-news here.

Reading for peace and the storyteller’s craft: blog tour day 8

DAY EIGHT. Halfway through the Davide Cali blog tour and we have exciting news of a new reading project for kids, Reading for Social Peace, which Davide Cali will be launching in Melbourne on 24 May during his visit to Australia. Also, popular children’s author and blogger Dee White examines Davide Cali’s approach to creating picture books on her DeeScribe Writing blog.

Reading for Social Peace is a National Year of Reading project devised by Yarra Plenty Regional Library in partnership with book publisher Wilkins Farago.

Inspired by a similar program by the National Library of the Maldives, it aims to use stories to encourage conversation in young people about issues that cause conflict, such as war, cultural differences, and bullying. Two of the texts being used in the program are Davide Cali’s The Enemy (illustrated by Serge Bloch) and The Bear with the Sword (illustrated by Gianluca Foli). As Davide himself puts it:

In both these story there is an enemy. In The Bear with the Sword, the enemy never comes, in The Enemy he’s just there, but in both cases we don’t know him, he’s somebody unknown in some way. The two stories have a similar moral: in the end, the worst enemy is often in us.

For details of the launch on 24 May, which is open to the public, visit the Yarra Plenty Regional Library blog.

Also today, children’s writer Dee White looks at Davide Cali’s craft as a writer on her DeeScribe Writing blog. She pays particularly attention to The Enemy and What is this thing called love?, concluding

I highly recommend Davide Cali’s books as great examples of original, thought-provoking, moving, simple picture books with a complete story arc and strong endings.

The Davide Cali blog tour is taking place from 1 to 15 May, as a countdown to Davide’s first visit to Australia from 16 to 28 May. Every day, some of Australia’s most interesting book bloggers will be posting interviews with him, reviewing his books, offering giveaways and maybe giving a sneak peak of his award-winning new book, 10 Little Insects.

You can check out the full blog tour here.

Davide Cali’s 2012 Australian tour is an initiative of the National Year of Reading