Dreaming with Eyes Open

Every year the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) inspires schools and libraries to celebrate the books, authors, and illustrators of Australia in ‘Book Week’. The first time I heard of this I was a graduate high school teacher, seven years ago*. Back then I thought, what an awesome idea – and I still do.

Of course, I’d love to celebrate books every day, but not everyone is quite so familiar with their magic as I am. It’s wonderful that there is such an initiative in this country to encourage children to read and find out more about the newest books for them (the CBCA also holds awards for the year’s publications during Book Week).

Plus, next week is also about dressing up as your favourite character. (A search for ‘book week’ in Google comes up with over 500 images on the first page… it’s a lot of fun.) Who doesn’t like a good costume party? 😉

Group of 17 white females dressed as Minions with one dressed as 'Gru'
Fellow educators at the high school I once worked at, dressed up for Book Week…

Each year since 1945 the CBCA has brought children and books together across Australia through CBCA Book Week. During this time schools and public libraries spend one glorious week celebrating books and Australian children’s authors and illustrators. Classroom teachers, teacher librarians and public librarians create colourful displays, develop activities, run competitions and tell stories relating to a theme to highlight the importance of reading. You will often see parades with students dressed as their favourite book character.

Children’s Book Council of Australia
'Dreaming with eyes open' poster of two children illustrated on a dark green background, and a variety of Australian animals moving across the poster

This year’s ‘theme’ is Dreaming with Eyes Open, with illustrations by Jasmine Seymour. The images have been described as “…about country, dreaming, and all those things that are hidden but also seen” (CBCA, 2022).

Jasmine says about the illustrations: “One of our elders tells us that in the beginning, the birds came first, then the animals, then the people. Dreaming is not something that belongs only to the past. It is all around us. Now, there, then, and always.”

I love this theme, in the way it speaks to every person individually to find their dreams in their waking world – perhaps through reading. But I also love the connection to Indigenous Australians, whose Dreaming is part of the world’s oldest living culture, and is continuous with a spiritual connection to country.

I plan to set aside some time next week to explore at least one new book by an Australian author and/or illustrator – specifically Indigenous Australians. Because recognising Indigenous Australian contributions to our stories, our country, is important.

I might dress up, too. Just need to get a costume ready in time…

Who would you dress up as?

And most importantly… what is your favourite book? 🙂

children in a variety of character costumes

*(No, I’m not still a high school teacher…but I still work with children. Who like dressing up.) Back to top.

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