29 April 2019

Community Book Exchange gets children turning pages

| John Thistleton
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Jarryd Kirchner with one of the community book exchanges he introduced to the Tuggeranong school communities. Photos: Supplied.

Independent Tuggeranong are calling for donations of children’s books, to help kids and parents read together.

The Community Book Exchange, established by Tuggeranong Independent Operations Manager Jarryd Kirchner, is spreading in the valley at Caroline, Chisholm and Wanniassa junior campuses and Gilmore primary school. Its aim is to help build school communities and get more books into people’s homes.

Jarryd came up with the idea while on a surfing holiday on the South Coast, where he saw book exchanges nurturing a healthy sense of community among an older demographic.

He thought if he could get schools on board it would help gain traction in Tuggeranong.

“In my experience, libraries can be a little intimidating, or perceived as not cool at school,” he says. “The book exchange puts a different spin on it, by engaging with people through books. That sort of engagement at school is seen as a bit funky,” he says.

Surfing at Broulee and noticing an exchange working well at Mossy Point took his thoughts back to his own early school days, when he used to struggle with reading. This is in contrast to today, where he is always keen to open a book.

A 20-year study by the University of Nevada shows parents who have books in the home increase the level of education their children will attain.

Joe O’Callaghan from OHomes built the house-shaped exchanges and Independent Tuggeranong painted and decorated them.

Throughout Tuggeranong, children and parents can exchange books from the special shelves, built and donated by Joe O’Callaghan from OHomes, and painted and decorated by staff at Independent Tuggeranong.

The concept is designed to create a space and promote shared learning through exchanging books. Students are encouraged to bring books to school which they wish to pass on and in exchange collect another book from within the book exchange to read. The shelves are shaped like homes to represent a safe haven for shared learning.

Chisholm Parents and Citizens member Fiona Green says families are excited as they swap their books. “Perhaps they will bring them back, or keep them for a while, but they are engaging with the students,” Fiona says.

The P&C bought cushions for the area where books are exchanged, and where children are dropped off before school and wait for their teacher, who comes on duty at 8:30 am to take them to the main quadrangle.

“They are under cover, which is important in Canberra, and have a nice place to sit and read,” Fiona says. She says her daughter looks for different books each week and loves finding one to take home, or one for her little sister.

Jarryd says the initiative helps highlight the relationship between community and business, and more importantly the responsibility real estate agencies have in shaping the community.

He is encouraging people to make donations of children’s books which can be dropped off at the Independent Tuggeranong office at Unit 16, Level 1/175 Anketell St, Greenway.

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John Thistleton8:21 am 29 Apr 19

Postscript from Gilmore Primary School Principal Vicki Lucas: “Gilmore Primary School has loved being part of the community book exchange initiative. The instructions are simple: take a book, give a book. Our students are genuinely thrilled that people would donate books that can be taken for free and love to tell me that they have contributed from their own collection. At the end of each school day, children can be seen selecting fresh reading material to add to their home libraries. They can often be seen choosing a book for their brother, sister or friend; adding value to our school’s approach to teach children how to select ‘good fit’ books. The Canberra Lil Street Libraries Facebook group reviewed our community book exchange and noted the value of having adult and children’s books from which to choose. Members of the broader Gilmore community have embraced the initiative ensuring regular turnover of books and further positioning our school as a community hub.”

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