Fast Five with Kate De Goldi

There are some wonderful authors and illustrators for children who are coming to Auckland in August as part of the 2016 IBBY Congress. You can read all about who we are excited to meet in our post about the IBBY Congress here on the blog. We approached some of the speakers and asked them a few questions about books and libraries.

Kate De GoldiThe first featured speaker is award-winning New Zealand author Kate De Goldi:

What are you most looking forward to when you visit New Zealand for the 2016 IBBY Congress?

I’m looking forward very much to hearing a range of speakers from different literary communities and cultures – hearing about the strengths and deficits in their communities in terms of bringing children and books together. It’s a rare opportunity to hear a number of commentators who have immersed themselves in children’s literature and the reading life of children, so there’s sure to be much to learn.

What is your favourite memory of libraries?

My ur-library was the old Christchurch City Library on the corner of Hereford Street and Oxford Terrace. I spent countless hours there as a child and learned the great pleasure of browsing the shelves, finding old, loved books to reread, but always happening on something new, too, which would often take my reading in another direction. For me, still, there is nothing to rival the pleasure of an unhurried browse of library shelves and a tall pile of books gathered to take home from the library.

Entrance, old Library
Entrance, old Library [1970s] Flickr File Reference: CCL-150-T-028

Perhaps my favourite memory of that old library was the upstairs reading room where I often took myself (instead of to school) during my seventh form year – and read all manner of unexpected things. In my memory that time and space is associated with intellectual expansion and wonderment – but also a sense of security and uninterrupted self-directed learning.

For the last twenty years the Wellington libraries have been my favourite city spaces, particularly Wellington Central. I have never lost the feeling of cresting excitement when I walk through the automatic doors and into that fabulous abundance of books, of unending potential…

What are 5 of your favourite books?

I read very widely in adult literature and have many favourites, but I’ll confine myself to children’s books for this. These five books are ones I frequently re-read – my criteria for a favourite book.

1.      cover of Ounce, dice, triceOunce, dice, trice by Alistair Reid; drawings by Ben Shahn. The New York Review Children’s Collection.

This book is like a visit to a glorious circus – where words dance, fly, juggle and tumble. It’s a celebration of the wildness and wonder of language at play.

2.      Cover of FrederickFrederick by Leo Lionni; Dragonfly Books

I love all Leo Lionni’s work but especially this timeless fable about the great importance of those who – while seeming idle – are closely observing the world, then giving it back to us as poetry

3.      Cover of The red shoeThe Red Shoe by Ursula Dubosarsky; Allen & Unwin

I admire Dubosarsky’s work enormously. This is an eerie modern fairytale in which a family three sisters watch – and often misinterpret – the strange goings-on between the important adults in their life. Viewed through the eyes of six year old Matilda, this haunting story reminds us how very differently the young see the world unfolding around them.

4.     Cover of The one and only IvanThe One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate; HarperCollins

A life-changing book: Ivan, a silverback gorilla, narrates the story of his captivity and work in a circus mall; with tender voice and images of great beauty, he helps the reader to understand properly the nobility of all living creatures, and the urgent need for kindness to the most vulnerable.

5.      Cover of The other side of silenceThe other side of silence by Margaret Mahy; HarperCollins

I think this is the greatest of Mahy’s many splendid novels. Using the elements of a lesser known Grimm tale, ‘Jorinda and Jorindel’ – thick forest, old castle, shape-changing witch, innocent maiden, adventurous young man, captive birds – Mahy weaves a profound and moving – and thoroughly contemporary – story about the riddle of parenting, the manipulation of children, the vanity attendant on talent, the complex responsibilities of the writer, the frailties and possibilities inherent in being human. Somewhere in the RNZ archive there is a most wonderful audio of Bronwyn Bradley reading the book aloud.

What do you love most about the world of children’s literature?

I greatly value a body of literature that has the young eye at the heart of its story telling and exploration of language. It is so good to be reminded again and again (as an adult) what it is like to be new to the world, to be decoding everything around you in order to understand what it is to be human. I deeply appreciate, too, that the very best of children’s writers deepen and expand the form in which they work, offering subtle, nuanced, complex literature to young readers, a literature where story, character, language and moral complexity is rendered as artfully as in any literary form. Many people immersed in the world of children’s literature – writers, critics, academics, readers – have an acute recall of what it is like to be a child. It is not that they are arrested developmentally, more that this part of life is still very present to them, so that their young eye is still working to a high level. I really like meeting people like that!

What you believe is the most important thing that adults can do to encourage children to read?

I think reading oneself – ie, modeling reading to the ever-alert child – is a fundamental requirement. You are demonstrating to children that a fully rounded life includes an sustained reading life.

I think reading aloud to children as far into their school years as possible is very important too. It can tide them over their own reading humps or resistances and bring them to more and more sophisticated story.

Thirdly, ensuring that the local library is a regular and enjoyable part of a child’s life – allowing them to feel that the library is a second home – an astonishing resource in their lives, allowing them to experience the unhurried pleasure of browsing and taking risks with books, allowing them to make friends with librarians. It’s good to own books, of course (if you are able) – particularly for re-reading which I think is an important part of a reading life. But the library’s resources are deeper and more vast than any bookshop’s so it’s an even more important place for the reading life.

Lastly, I would suggest that we need to listen to what our children’s reading interests really are – and validate them, while continuing to provide a range of possibilities. A Lego instruction sheet is a reading experience. A picture book is always a good thing no matter your age. And there’s always room for airheaded series books, too. A thorough reading life for a child will always have dross as well as pearls.

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Reading In Mind: Book Scheme for Mental Health

If you have a mental health issue like anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or worry, reading books about the issue can help you understand and manage your mental health and wellbeing.

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The Reading in Mind book scheme recommends books, eAudiobooks, eBooks or DVDs about a wide range of mental health issues. The books are selected with the advice of mental health professionals and the Mental Health Foundation of NZ.

Health providers may suggest a title from this scheme, or you can choose them from the book list yourself.  You might want to discuss the books with your health provider or librarian but this is entirely up to you.  Your family and friends can also use the scheme as it is sometimes very helpful for those closest to you to understand some of the issues that you may be dealing with and to find ways that they can help.

Books on the Reading In Mind book list have been recommended by mental health professionals and the scheme was developed by Pegasus Health, Christchurch City Libraries and The Mental Health Education and Resource Centre (MHERC) which is located at 116 Marshlands Road.  MHERC is also has a very good library which is free to use, and many of their books are included in the Reading In Mind booklists.

HealthInfo is another great resource to get information on Mental Health as well as other health issues.

Browse booklists of titles you can borrow from our libraries.

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Punker than Punk … Rock’s Backpages

An exploration of the new music resource Rock’s Backpages, available free to you through Christchurch City Libraries:

“Underrated” is a term that is widely and oftentimes overused when talking about music and rightly so, it’s a passionate subject!

When I think of “underrated”, in terms of music at least, I think of The Saints – a punk/rock band well ahead of their time, contemporaries of The Ramones, pre-dating The Sex Pistols & The Clash, and hailing from OUR OWN REGION! – albeit on the other side of the Tasman (1970s Brisbane), so why are they not as noted as these others?? They certainly deserve to be, in my humble musical opinion!

My first exposure to The Saints was being handed an old cassette (remember those?!?) by a boyfriend of my older sister back in the 1980s. The tape was many-generations-of-overdubs old with illegible scribbles all over the labels. One side had some pretty decent Australian Rock’n’Roll, on the other side … Eternally Yours by The Saints. It was loud, it was raw & packed with lyrics shouting at you to “Wake Up” & see what’s happening around you! Fair to say it blew my young mind & changed the way I viewed (& engaged) with music and the world forever, and it still sits on my regular playlists today.

See more articles about The Saints in Rock’s Backpages.

In this modern age of accessibility I’m pleased to see that The Saints are now achieving some kind of recognition, with notable artists such as Nick Cave or the Hives claiming them as direct inspiration. The growth of digitisation of historic articles is also making it possible to read about their influence and music.

CoverThere’s loads of books around these days too dealing with the histories of underground music. A good one is Mavericks of Sound: Conversations with Artists who Shaped Indie and Roots Music by David A. Ensminger, a good read looking at some interesting areas of the world underground music

Christchurch City Libraries subscribes to Rock’s Back Pages, through which you can search for and read articles from the history of the world’s music press – articles that were published at the same time as the artists were operating. It covers reviews, opinion pieces & much more – a truly valuable resource for those of us who are into music!

You can log in using your user name & password/PIN, have a look through and see what you can find about the bands that you love, the ones that have influenced you, and the ones that have changed your life – it all makes for interesting & nostalgic reading!

Stay Punk!