2018 Davitt Awards


The link below is to an article that takes a look at the 2018 Davitt Awards.

For more visit:
https://blog.booktopia.com.au/2018/08/14/davitt-awards-2018/

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Six things you should do when reading with your kids



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Stories take children on imaginary adventures.
Photo by Mazyar Hooshidar. , Author provided

Ameneh Shahaeian, Australian Catholic University

There is magic in stories. We all remember hearing them as children, and we loved them. Imaginary adventures set in faraway places. Tales about how the dishwasher isn’t working. It doesn’t matter! Whether made up by parents or read from books, kids love to hear stories.

Our recent work showed reading to children positively impacts long term academic achievement more than many other activity (including playing music with them, or doing craft). We found the more frequently parents read to their children, the better their children’s NAPLAN scores in different areas.




Read more:
If you can only do one thing for your children, it should be shared reading


In our most recent study, we asked parents to read a wordless storybook to their three to five-year-old children titled The Wolf and Seven Little Goats. We also tested children in many areas of their important cognitive skills, such as language proficiency, memory, self-control, and friendship skills.

Through examining the different ways parents tell stories, we have pinpointed which elements of shared reading are most beneficial for children’s cognitive development.

1. Tune in to your child

Perhaps the most important aspect of reading to children is to tune in to your child. Listen to your child’s cues. Do they like the story? Do they know the vocabulary? Are they paying attention to the pictures more, or the text?

Try to coach your child, not to instruct them. Instead of saying: “look they are going to cook some food, maybe they are hungry”, you can ask “what are they doing?” or “why do you think they’re doing that?”.

Be sensitive about whether they are listening and engaged or uninterested and disengaged. If they are disengaged, are there questions you can ask to make them more interested? Do you think they’ll like a different type of story better? The best books for your child are the ones they enjoy most.




Read more:
Research shows the importance of parents reading with children – even after children can read


2. Ask questions

Parents who ask lots of questions engage in a more fun and informative way with their children. Ask them if they know the vocabulary, if they can guess what the characters are going to do next, and why they’ve done what they’ve done.

These questions are not only helpful because they help children gain new knowledge and ways of thinking, it also helps strengthen the emotional bond between parent and child. Children like to feel they’re a part of the task, not that they’re being told how to do things.

3. Go beyond describing images or reading text

How would you describe what’s happening in this scene?
Author provided, Author provided

In our study, we gave parents a wordless picture book. An important difference we observed between parents was some only describe what they see. Some go beyond the picture.

For example, when the mother goat in the picture book comes home and sees the door to the house open, one parent said:

When their mother came home and was looking forward to seeing her children and hugging them and telling them a story, she suddenly saw that the door is open. She was shocked!

Another parent said:

The mother came home and saw the door is open; she went inside and looked for the children.

This parent is only describing the picture.

The first parent is imagining what is beyond the picture and text. This is a richer way to tell a story to children, and ultimately leads to better cognitive developmental outcomes for children. This is because it teaches abstract thinking, which is the basis for many of the higher order cognitive abilities such as problem solving and critical analysis.

4. Make logical links between different parts of the story

This wolf is a cunning creature.
Author provided, Author provided

Another element that has a strong link to the development of children’s cognitive skills is the way parents build logical links between different parts of the story.

Often the events in books unfold very quickly. One minute, the wolf eats the little goats, and the next minute he is found by the mother. Some parents try to make the sequence of events more logical than others.

For example, in this picture, when the wolf is coming to knock on the door, one parent said:

The wolf, who realised the mother is not home, came and knocked on the door.

This sentence is lacking logical links. How did the wolf know the mother is not home? Why should he come and knock on the door? What did he want?

Another parent said:

The wolf, who was sunbathing in the bush, saw that the mother is going to get some food. He thought, oh, the little goats are alone at home, and it’s a good time for me to go and trick them and maybe get a good lunch!

The parent here is clearly providing logical links between these different parts of the story.

5. Add relevant details

Keep added details relevant.
Author provided, Author provided

We also found most parents add many details to the story to make it more interesting or comprehensive. But relevant details are the most useful in terms of improving children’s learning. Relevant details are the kind of details that help make the story easier to understand.

For example, one parent said:

The little goat, who was wearing the yellow shirt and was the smallest said: ‘we shouldn’t open the door! How do we know this is our mother? She has just left.’

Here, wearing a yellow shirt is a descriptive detail, but it doesn’t add much to the story.

Another mother said:

The smallest one, who was also the cleverest and very careful, said…

This second parent is clearly adding a detail (that the smaller one is also the cleverest and careful) that makes the story more meaningful and easier to follow.




Read more:
Enjoyment of reading, not mechanics of reading, can improve literacy for boys


6. Talk about mental and emotional concepts

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We found parents who not only describe the events of a story but also discuss abstract concepts related to emotions, desires and thoughts tend to have children who are better cognitively skilled. These children develop a better understanding of others’ emotions, better friendship skills, and even improved memory and higher order cognitive skills that are useful in later life. These lead to academic success as well as better skills to build friendships and perform well in social relationships.

Ameneh Shahaeian, Research Fellow in Developmental and Educational Psychology, Australian Catholic University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Technology hasn’t killed public libraries – it’s inspired them to transform and stay relevant



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The State Library in Victoria illustrates that libraries are so much more than just places that contain books.
from shutterstock.com

Danielle Wyatt, University of Melbourne and Dale Leorke, University of Tampere

In 2017, archaeologists discovered the ruins of the oldest public library in Cologne, Germany. The building may have housed up to 20,000 scrolls, and dates back to the Roman era in the second century. When literacy was restricted to a tiny elite, this library was open to the public. Located in the centre of the city in the marketplace, it sat at the heart of public life.

We may romanticise the library filled with ancient books; an institution dedicated to the interior life of the mind. But the Cologne discovery tells us something else. It suggests libraries may have meant something more to cities and their inhabitants than being just repositories of the printed word.




Read more:
State libraries need our support and participation to survive



Contemporary public libraries tell us this too. Membership has generally declined or flat-lined, but people are now using libraries for more than borrowing books. Children come to play video games or complete homework assignments together. People go to hear lectures and musical performances, or attend craft workshops and book clubs.

Libraries have become vital for the marginalised, such as the homeless, to access essential government services such as Centrelink, and to stay connected. They have become defacto providers of basic digital literacy training – such as how to use an iPad or access an eGov account. Others cater to tech-enthusiasts offering advanced courses on coding or robotics in purpose-built spaces and laboratories.

We do romanticise libraries as being repositories of ancient knowledge.
Clarisse Meyer/Unsplash

Yet the future of Australia’s public libraries is unfolding according to a contradictory, double narrative. One-off funding for “feature” libraries built by star architects exists in parallel with cuts and closures of libraries on the margins. In Victoria’s city of Geelong, for example, three regional libraries on the city’s periphery faced closure scarcely a year after the opening of the A$45m Geelong Library and Heritage Centre.

Part of the reason for this is that the expanded contribution of libraries to our communities and cities isn’t recognised at higher levels of government.




Read more:
Has the library outlived its usefulness in the age of Internet? You’d be surprised


How libraries are changing

In the early 2000s, as archives shifted online, futurists predicted an imminent death to public libraries. But the threat of obsolescence made libraries take proactive steps to remain relevant in a digital world. They thought creatively about how to translate services they have always offered – universal access to information – into new formats.

Libraries digitised their collections and networked their catalogues, exponentially extending the range of materials users could access. They introduced e-books and e-readers to read them with. They mounted screens to watch movies or to play video games.

They also installed computers crucial to that 14% of the population who don’t have access to the internet at home. And they wired up their spaces with free WiFi, retrofitting extra power-points so users could plug in their own devices.

Libraries have a lot of programs around technology and the use of computers.
from shutterstock.com

Besides offering new technologies and services, libraries offer people a welcoming, safe space to gather without the pressure to spend money. Investing in attractive, versatile furnishings, they have actively encouraged people to dwell in their spaces, whether this is to read a newspaper, complete a job application online, or to study.

In an age where communication technologies create both efficiency as well as forms of isolation, such spaces assume a renewed social importance.




Read more:
Friday essay: why libraries can and must change


How libraries shape the city

As vital as libraries are to individuals, their value is also connected to broader civic agendas. Libraries have deliberately sought to change perceptions of themselves from spaces of collection to spaces of creation. Some, such as the State Library of Victoria, see themselves facilitating creativity not only in an artistic sense, but also as entrepreneurial hubs for start-ups and budding innovators.

Public libraries have promoted their relevance to cities by strategically aligning themselves with government visions of economic growth. For instance, the Geelong Library and Heritage Centre was a signature investment in Geelong’s Digital Strategy, promoted as a “platform” to build “digital capacity” and a visible symbol of the city’s transition to a digital future.

Others, such as Dandenong library in Victoria, attract high levels of funding as part of urban renewal projects aimed at revitalising declining urban precincts.

These high-profile libraries, usually in urban centres, overshadow the uncertain fate of smaller libraries on the periphery, fighting to stay viable due to insufficient funding.

The Geelong Library and Heritage Centre cost millions of dollars to build, while three local libraries lost funding.
from shutterstock.com

This contradiction is occurring because provisioning for libraries is not embedded at high levels of urban planning and policy making. There is no nationally consistent model for allocating funds between the states and local government. Nor is there a consistent framework across Australia for evaluating library performance.

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Critically and most revealingly, libraries are evaluated based on traditional metrics, such as loan and membership numbers, capturing only a fraction of the full value they contribute to our individual and collective life. Failure to recognise this by governments and policymakers puts at risk the diverse and nuanced ways libraries might shape Australia’s future.

Danielle Wyatt, Research Fellow, University of Melbourne and Dale Leorke, Postdoctoral researcher, University of Tampere

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Send Web Articles to Kindle and Kindle Apps


The link below is to an article that takes a look at how to send web articles to Kindle and Kindle Apps.

For more visit:
https://blog.the-ebook-reader.com/2018/08/09/how-to-send-web-articles-to-kindles-and-kindle-apps/

Google Play Family Library


The links below are to articles that take a look at the Google Play Family Library.

For more visit:
https://blog.the-ebook-reader.com/2018/08/05/share-ebooks-using-google-play-family-library/
https://support.google.com/googleplay/answer/7007852

Marvel meets Mesopotamia: how modern comics preserve ancient myths



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Gilgamesh (right) in his first appearance as an Avenger in the Marvel comic Avengers Vol 1 300.
Marvel Database

Louise Pryke, Macquarie University

Ancient Mesopotamia, the region roughly encompassing modern-day Iraq, Kuwait and parts of Syria, Iran and Turkey, gave us what we could consider some of the earliest known literary “superheroes”.

One was the hero Lugalbanda, whose kindness to animals resulted in the gift of super speed, perhaps making him the literary great-grandparent of the comic hero The Flash.

But unlike the classical heroes (Theseus, Herakles, and Egyptian deities such as Horus), which have continued to be important cultural symbols in modern pop culture, Mesopotamian deities have largely fallen into obscurity.

An exception to this is the representation of Mesopotamian culture in science fiction, fantasy, and especially comics. Marvel and DC comics have added Mesopotamian deities, such as Inanna, goddess of love, Netherworld deities Nergal and Ereshkigal, and Gilgamesh, the heroic king of the city of Uruk.

Gilgamesh the Avenger

The Marvel comic book hero of Gilgamesh was created by Jack Kirby, although the character has been employed by numerous authors, notably Roy Thomas. Gilgamesh the superhero is a member of the Avengers, Marvel comics’ fictional team of superheroes now the subject of a major movie franchise, including Captain America, Thor, and the Hulk. His character has a close connection with Captain America, who assists Gilgamesh in numerous battles.




Read more:
Guide to the classics: the Epic of Gilgamesh


Gilgamesh and Captain America are both characters who stand apart from their own time and culture. For Captain America, this is the United States during the 1940s, and for Gilgamesh, ancient Mesopotamia. A core aspect of their personal narratives is their struggle to navigate the modern world while still engaging with traditions from the past.

In the 1992 comic Captain America Annual #11, Cap is transported to ancient Mesopotamia.
Marvel Database

Gilgamesh’s first appearance as an Avenger was in 1989 in the comic series Avengers 1, issue #300, Inferno Squared. In the comic, Gilgamesh is known, rather aptly, as the “Forgotten One”. The “forgetting” of Gilgamesh the hero is also referenced in his first appearance in Marvel comics in 1976, where the character Sprite remarks that the hero “lives like an ancient myth, no longer remembered”.

In Avengers #304, …Yearning to Breathe Free!, Gilgamesh travels to Ellis Island with Captain America and Thor. The setting of Ellis Island allows for the heroes’ thoughtful consideration of their shared past as immigrants. Like Gilgamesh, Thor is also from foreign lands, in this case the Norse kingdom of Asgard.

In the 1992 comic Captain America Annual #11, the battle against the villainous Kang sends Captain America time-travelling back to Uruk in 2700 BCE. Captain America realises that the his royal companion is Gilgamesh, and accompanies the king on adventures from the legendary Epic of Gilgamesh.

Conan the Barbarian, featuring the goddess Inanna.
Marvel Database

In the original legend, Gilgamesh finds the key to eternal youth, a heartbeat plant, and then promptly loses it to a snake. In the comic adaptation, the snake is an angry sea serpent, who Captain America must fight to save Gilgamesh. The Mesopotamian hero’s famous fixation on acquiring immortality is reflected in his Marvel counterpart’s choice to leave Captain America fighting the serpent in order to collect the heartbeat plant. This leads Cap to observe his ancient friend has “a few millennia” of catching up to do on the concept of team-work!

Gilgamesh is not the only hero to feature. Marvel’s 1974 comic, Conan the Barbarian #40, The Fiend from the Forgotten City, features the Mesopotamian goddess of love, Inanna. In the comic, the barbarian hero is assisted by the goddess while fighting against looters in an ancient “forgotten city.” Marvel’s Inanna holds similar powers to her mythical counterpart, including the ability to heal. It is interesting to note the prominence of the theme of “forgetting” in comic books involving Mesopotamian myths, perhaps alluding to the present day obscurity of ancient Mesopotamian culture.




Read more:
Friday essay: the legend of Ishtar, first goddess of love and war


Myth literacy

A possible image of Gilgamesh from 700BC in Iraq.
Wikimedia

It’s tempting to think that Captain America’s 1992 journey back to Ancient Mesopotamia was a comment on the political context at the time, particularly the Gulf War. But Roy Thomas, creator of this comic, told me via email his portrayal of Gilgamesh reflected his interest in the legend from his university days, and teaching students ancient myths at a high school.

Thomas’ belief in the benefits of learning myths is well founded. Story-telling has been recognised since ancient times as a powerful tool for imparting wisdom. Myths teach empathy and the ability to consider problems from different perspectives.

The combination of social and analytical skills developed through engaging with mythology can provide the foundation for a life-long love of learning. A recent study has shown that packaging stories in comics makes them more memorable, a finding with particular significance for preserving Mesopotamia’s cultural heritage.

The myth literacy of science fiction and fantasy audiences allows for the representation in these works of more obscure ancient figures. Marvel comics see virtually the entire pantheons of Greece, Rome, and Asgard represented. But beyond these more familiar ancient worlds, Marvel has also featured deities of the Mayan, Hawaiian, Celtic religions, and Australian Aboriginal divinities, and many others.

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The use of Mesopotamian myth in comic books shows the continued capacity of ancient legends to find new audiences and modern relevance. In the comic multiverse, an appreciation of storytelling bridges a cultural gap of 4,000 years, making old stories new again, and hopefully preserving them for the future.

Louise Pryke, Lecturer, Languages and Literature of Ancient Israel, Macquarie University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.