21 November 2001

The University of Queensland is spreading the word by sponsoring a massive children’s book trade project to be trialled at several Brisbane schools in coming weeks.

Dr John Worthington, who masterminded the idea while completing his PhD at UQ, said the Children’s Book Shuffle was simple and now he planned to discover its effectiveness.

Selected schools ask families to donate unwanted books, which are collected, sorted and stamped before being displayed for children to choose under the supervision of teachers.

Sponsored by UQ’s School of Education, the pilot event will be held at four primary schools during the last week of November and first week of December.

The participating schools will be West End State School, Kelvin Grove State School, Somerset Hills State School and Holy Family Catholic School.

Local member for Stafford, Terry Sullivan, will officially launch the 2001 Children’s Book Shuffle at Somerset Hills State School, corner of Webster and Kitchener roads, Stafford Heights, tomorrow (Thursday, November 22) at 9am.

“There’s no strings or conditions, it’s simply about making unwanted resources wanted, with schools having the added benefit of being able to highlight literacy as a key educational outcome for all students,” said Dr Worthington.

The concept was born from Dr Worthington’s recent longitudinal research into the issues surrounding the early literacy development of 30 children, each from different families.

“The book shuffle focuses on making better use of unwanted books in home collections that my research showed were being treated in a range of ways,” he said.

“These patterns of use showed that while some favourite books remained with families for extended periods of time, even from generation to generation, more often than not, many parents culled the home book collection.

“With the current retail cost of books, it is clear that a children’s home book collection represents a significant investment.

“The book shuffle will provide families with the opportunity to gain a number of ‘new books’ at no cost and at the same time, if they choose, they can recycle unwanted books (up to 10) through the school to other families.”

Dr Worthington, who has worked as a teacher, guidance officer and more recently, for the past 15 years as an educational consultant, said the shuffle concept was based on sharing and giving.

He said the number of books available to each child would solely be based on the total number donated.

Any books remaining after the book shuffle will be given to the school library, classroom book collection, used at a school fundraising event, retained for the next shuffle or donated to another school either in Australia or overseas through a recognised charity.

Dr Worthington hopes to secure sponsorship for the next book shuffle so it can involve up to 100 schools. He also wants every school to have access to the manual detailing of the pilot project so they can host a summer and winter book shuffle each year.

In addition, he hopes to involve high schools and plans to hold combined shuffles between several small schools, particularly in rural and aboriginal communities.

Dr Worthington thanked Snap Printing in Milton for providing Children’s Book Shuffle bookmarks and UQ’s Office of Marketing and Communications for donating book bags for the pilot project.

Media: For further information, contact Dr John Worthington (mobile 0414 883 463, email j.worthington@mailbox.uq.edu.au, visit www.jweducation.com), or Joanne van Zeeland at UQ Communications (telephone 07 3365 2619 or email communications@mailbox.uq.edu.au).