It’s Book Week again . . .
One of the beauties of working in early education and care is the open-ended nature of the curriculum and the EYLF outcomes. This open-endedness allows our work to be responsive, meaningful and inclusive.
At the same time, one of the challenges of working in early education and care is the open-ended nature of the curriculum and the EYLF outcomes. With so many options at hand, how should we decide where to place our focus? What should be included, what should be excluded, and what will be excluded just by virtue of choosing to place our focus one place rather than another? Which children’s needs are being met and which children’s aren’t? How can we tell?
It can all feel very overwhelming.
One common answer is that we should follow children’s interests and curiosities. This is important in terms of honouring children’s sense of identity, belonging and agency. At the same time, we need to always also be asking, how does following this interest or curiosity fit within our philosophy? Honouring children’s curiosities does not mean abandoning the need for intentionality and purpose in our teaching.
As Red Ruby Scarlet says: “There isn’t an interest that is free from bias, so we need the [anti-bias] goals to guide us to bring the many cultural perspectives omitted from children’s curiosities. Similarly, the resources and materials we choose are all culturally and cognitively part of how your places and spaces ‘speak to’ and reflect an anti-bias world” (2020, p.18).
What does all of this have to do with Book Week?
With its broad scope, the question of how to celebrate Book Week encapsulates the kind of fraught but productive decision-making described above.
This year Book Week’s beautiful artwork is from Darug author-illustrator Jasmine Seymour, and the theme is Dreaming with Eyes Open. Jasmine has published two beautiful books that tell Darug stories in both English and Darug language.
Perhaps Jasmine Seymour’s Book Week artwork could be a provocation for children to explore the animals on Country where you live.
Perhaps Book Week is a chance to connect or extend connections with local Elders and learn about the local Aboriginal language or languages.
Perhaps Book Week is an opportunity to audit the books in your bookshelf with the anti-bias goals in mind.
Perhaps you have something else going on in your setting at the moment and you decide, alongside children and families, that Book Week isn’t the most important place to dedicate your focus at this time.
Happiest of collaborative critical reflecting to you this Book Week!
What kinds of literacies are meaningful in your community, and how are these engaged with in your setting?
How do you honour the different languages spoken by children and families in your setting? Does your book selection include books in these languages? Are there ways these languages could be embedded in daily transitions and routines?
What Indigenous languages and storytelling traditions exist on the Aboriginal Country of your setting?
Scarlet, R. R. (2020). Pedagogical provocations. Multiverse Publishing. https://learning.theinclusionroom.com.au/courses/pedagogical-provocations