• Mona Vale Library: modern – no more than ten years old – situated in a busy shopping district• weather was rainy and quite humid• book reading took place in a small room separated from the rest of the library by closing frosted glass bi-fold doors, approximately 5x10m• large table covered with craft materials including glue, scissors, textas and assorted pieces of colouredcardboard• two bookshelves: one with a purple velvet covering and the book ‘Are we there yet? A Journey across Australia’ and a postcard on displayed and a larger one with other books• two large blankets spread out as a mat for children to sit on• 13 children (ranging in age from approximately five years of age to ten years of age) sitting on the mat• middle of the mat is a large map of Australia, some glue sticks and a variety of cartoon pictures
• pre-organised picture book reading by the librarian (Robin) for a group of 17 children varying in ages from 5 to 10 years• two parents remained in the room but did not participate in the activities• subject (Robin) was observed as she sat with the group of students on the mat and read them the picture book ‘Are we there yet? A Journey across Australia’
• middle-aged female librarian• mid 50s• regular height and a slender build• short blond hair• wears glassed with white frames• black dress pants, a black singlet and a peach blouse• silver bracelets and dangly earrings• high-pitched voice that often conveys an excited tone.
THEMES:•Communicating verbally•Communicating viabody language•Communicating withchildren•Communicating withparents•Referring to text
1. Librarians create a positive emotional experience of literature for children.Frequency of observed behaviours:• ‘smiling at children’ 15% (structured)• ‘smiling at children’ 13% (unstructured) – e.g. ‘The pitch of her voice becomes higher and she smiles and nods a lot.’ – ‘Robin looks at the boy and smiles whilst she listens to him speak.’
2. Librarian spends more time communicating with children than with parents in an attempt to have children see that children’s literature is about creating a child’s world free from adults.Frequency of observed behaviours:• ‘communicating with parents’ 5% (structured)• ‘communicating with children’ 91% (structured) – asking & answering questions, eye contact, talking• ‘directing attention to parents’ 4% (unstructured) e.g. ‘Robin looks up and makes eye contact with the mother’.
3. The close proximity of children and librarian builds a feeling of inclusion designed to convey the idea that literature can be a shared and social experience.Frequency of observed behaviours:• For the duration of the observation the subject sat on the mat with the children.• ‘subject moving close to children’ 4% (unstructured)• ‘directing attention to the map’ 9% (unstructured)• e.g. ‘Robin kneels forward and touches the map …’
4. Non-verbal communication is a key feature of the shared literature experience to develop social literacy skills.Frequency of observed behaviours:• The subject spent a significant amount of time communicating in a non-verbal manner with the children.• ‘communication via body language’ 58% (structured) – These included smiling, making eye contact, drawing attention to the book with hands and eyes, hand gestures and pointing to the map.
5. Librarians encourage comprehension and engagement with literature through the use of directing attention to textsFrequency of observed behaviours:• ‘directing attention to the text’ 21% (structured) – with eyes, hand gestures, reading• ‘directing attention to the text’ 28% (unstructured) – questions: ‘Why wasn’t she upset when her hat was eaten by the elephant?’ and ‘Who’d like to eat a witchetty grub?’
6. Demonstrating a concern for the welfare ofchildren promotes mutual respect and consideration for each other.Frequency of observed behaviours:• ‘concerned with welfare’: 44% (unstructured) – e.g. used questions, directions and gestures to comfort: ‘You can’t see there, can you sweety? Do you want to move back a bit?’ and ‘Robin gestures for a small boy (about 5 or 6 years of age) to sit near the back so he can see the book better.