Picture Book exhibition, Gosford Library Australia

The Gosford City Library team was thrilled to launch the IFLA “World Through Picture Books” exhibition at Erina Library on March 5th 2015. The author and illustrator Bruce Whatley entertained a large audience of children’s literature professionals including a large contingent of librarians, and teacher librarians, as well as interested community members.

As coordinator of the Australian list it was a delight to invite Bruce who had illustrated two of the top ten Australian picture books Pete the Sheep by Jackie French and the Little Refugee by Ahn & Suzanne Do. His extensive experience provided an informative and emotional presentation. This is the first time this fabulous exhibition had been seen in Australia. Children and young adults enjoyed the opportunity of sharing stories from many cultures, complimenting the school curriculum across many age groups. 160 students from Gosford Selective High school attended a presentation and workshop day. After touring the exhibition the hands- on sessions enabled students to experience an amazing collection of international titles exploring a variety of visual literacy concepts and artistic styles.

Local childcare centres brought preschool children to share stories from many countries with translated versions sitting alongside the original titles. Favourites included The Story of the Little Mole Who Knew it Was None of His Business by Werner Holzwart and Stella Star of the sea by Mary- Louise Gay (Quebec, Canada). At our special Gosford event in Kibble Park, ”World of Stories”, pre-school and school students experienced picture books read in a variety of languages. Students from Gosford High School, Library staff and community members read stories in Spanish, French and Russian. It was a wonderful opportunity for all and the event broadened our understanding of our local multicultural community. Library staff also shared stories from the exhibition in English, from Australia, the UK and the USA.

Several events were organized for our local homeschool community. Over three sessions 50 children and 30 parents toured the exhibition then shared presentations based on topics such as culture, environmental issues and traditional tales. Focus on how children lived, worked and played in different countries highlighted both the differences and similarities to these local children.

Exhibition, Gosford Library

The exhibition of over 300 titles provided so much rich literature to share. Staff at Erina library used titles from Singapore, the United Kingdom and the USA for weekly story time sessions. Over 170 preschool children and their parents shared stories and related craft activities during the month. Patrons from our vast multicultural community toured the exhibition, taking time to read their childhood favourites and contemporary classics. Both the local Japanese and French communities used social media to promote the exhibition, and staff co-ordinated a special event for Japanese families to share the exhibition.

For the month of March, Erina library became a truly international library with flags and banners heralding the brilliant ”World Through Picture books” exhibition. The brightly coloured displays welcomed everyone and provided an opportunity to see, feel and enjoy the culture of so many countries through a diverse and exciting variety of fabulous picture books. Guiding children and adults through the exhibition was an amazing personal and professional experience. Every day I explored, enjoyed and learnt more from the titles. It was a very sad day when we returned the boxes to the International Children’s library in Tokyo.

Claire Stuckey
Children’s & Young Adults Librarian
Gosford NSW Australia

Contact: Claire.stuckey@gosford.nsw.gov.au