Reading Is My Secret Power: 10 ways our schools are celebrating Book Week

News | Reading Is My Secret Power: 10 ways our schools are celebrating Book Week

Posted 19 August 2019 by Catholic Education in News

Caped crusaders, crazy costumes and colourful characters – it’s shaping up to be a jam-packed week of fun and creativity this Book Week, bringing children and books together in our schools all across the Diocese. With inspiration from this year’s theme, ‘Reading Is My Secret Power’, we have a lot to look forward to!

Each year, the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA)’s ‘Children’s Book Week’ sees schools, libraries, booksellers, authors, illustrators and children around the nation celebrate Australian children's literature.

This year, our schools are holding lively book character parades and performances, and a variety of book competitions and themed activities; our talented librarians and teachers have created amazing displays; special guest authors are preparing to visit our classrooms; and teachers and students are putting the finishing touches on their Book Week costumes. Parents, grandparents and younger siblings are even ready to join in the week’s festivities!

“Book Week is all about celebration. We like to celebrate books, authors, illustrators and our own students’ many talents. We have planned a dress up parade, a picnic lunch with parents, an author visit and many competitions for the students to engage in,” St Paul’s Albion Park Library School Support Officer, Robyn Warton said.

“We acknowledge, nurture and promote the precious gift of reading amongst our students. Reading promotes acquisition of language and literacy skills, as well as reinforcing creativity and imagination,” St Michael’s Thirroul Religious Education Coordinator (REC), Emma Groves added. 

“Our students, families and staff are passionate about reading and there is a genuine love of literature throughout our schools. We believe Book Week is more than just dressing up as our favourite book characters – it is a week to celebrate reading and acknowledge all the books written by brilliant Australian authors” — Emma Groves, REC, St Michael’s Thirroul

“Book Week promises to be a fun and memorable experience for our students. We are really looking forward to it,” Good Samaritan Fairy Meadow teacher librarian, Michelle Cook said.

whattheysaidWhat are our students most looking forward to this Book Week?

“Dressing up” – Keisha, aged 9
“Having a great time” – Emily, aged 7
“The books” – Hunter, aged 7
“Getting to dress up and have fun” – Ruby, aged 8
“Having fun” – Alivia, aged 8
“Having so much fun celebrating, and seeing all the decorations” – Ameirah, aged 7
“Book Week competitions like our Story Writing Competition” – Jayden, aged 11
“Getting to read the stories – the ones written by children and the ones in the [CBCA] Book of the Year Awards” – Olivia, aged 11

— St Paul’s Albion Park students

190819 Book Week SFAW 2

Here is a snapshot of some of the wonderful celebrations of children’s literature in our schools this week – 10 ways our CEDoW schools are marking Book Week 2019: 

1Parades and Performances

At Holy Family Ingleburn, the Book Week parade is circled on the calendar as a key day not to miss! In a wonderfully joyful and inventive display of writing, drama and musical talent from staff, each year the school’s book parade is organised around a whole-school play – led by librarian, Dianne Winarczyk, who writes an original script inspired by the storyline or characters of a well-known children's book. The play takes the school community on an exciting adventure tied in with the year’s Book Week theme, engaging the children in an immersive, and always entertaining, Book Week experience – a real highlight of the year.

Last year, Holy Family staff gave life to Aladdin and the theme, ‘Find Your Treasure’. This year, the students entered the castle from ‘Beauty and the Beast', where they found Lumiere, the castle maître d' (turned candelabra), and Cogsworth, the castle majordomo (turned clock). With the help of Lumiere's suave encouragement and plenty of audience interaction, both characters eventually worked together to discover the magic that could break the spell the castle was under and save the day. 

In a school hall filled with students, staff and families, the children were captivated watching the play’s story unfold around them and delighted to parade in their dress ups and costumes – representing characters from books and stories including: Winnie the Pooh; The Elves and the Shoemaker; The Little Mermaid; James and the Giant Peach; and Dr Seuss' The Lorax.


190819 Book Week HFI parade1

Our range of theatrically-talented staff doesn’t stop at Holy Family – teachers and support staff at St Paul’s Albion Park; St Columbkille’s Corrimal; St John’s DaptoGood Samaritan Fairy Meadow and St Therese West Wollongong are also putting on special plays and performances. Often a highlight of the week for students, these dedicated staff have rehearsed their parts and are now ready to act out their items for the children as part of the week’s fun.

Later this week, St Francis of Assisi Warrawong’s and St Joseph’s Bulli’s book parades will welcome parents, family and even preschool siblings to come along dressed up and join in; as is the case at St Paul’s Albion Park, who love having the local preschoolers dress up and attend their parade too. They even have their Kindergarten children performing a song and dance for the little ones and whole school community.

St Paul’s Camden; St Joseph’s Bulli; Holy Cross Helensburgh; St Michael’s Thirroul; and St Joseph’s Albion Park – among many CEDoW schools – will also be holding book parades to celebrate the occasion. There’s sure to be a lot of colour, glitter, paint and material across the Diocese this week!

The first book parade to kick off celebrations was at St Patrick’s Port Kembla. The children had a “super time” at their book character parade [pictured below], hosted by ‘the Evil Queen’. Sherlock Holmes and Watson dropped by to investigate the source of all the laughing and cheering; the students enjoyed a superhero cake stall; and the school’s resident celebrity, Paddy the Leprechaun, made a guest appearance too.

190819 Book Week SPPK  

14Guest speakers: visits from authors

Many of our students are looking forward to a visit from an Australian author this week – to hear firsthand about their experiences with writing and their advice, as well as having the opportunity to purchase their books, have them personally signed, and take a photo with these special guests.

St Joseph’s Bulli were excited to welcome winner of The Voice 2013, Harrison Craig, today who spoke with students about how he overcame his challenges with stuttering and bullying [pictured below]. As well as touring nationally and internationally with his singing, Craig has written a children’s book, Harrison’s Song, which shares his story and inspires others to overcome their challenges too – reinforcing the school’s anti-bullying messages and SP4BL rules, including to be respectful, responsible and safe.

190819 Book Week SJB1

Meanwhile, Australian author/illustrator and children’s entertainer, Michael Salmon, will visit St Paul’s Albion Park and St Paul’s Camden throughout the week. Salmon said his visits are aimed at helping children develop their creative talents. He describes his sessions as “fast speed cartooning” which will demonstrate to the students the process of how he invents a book, from the prototype stage to printed copy. 

St Joseph’s Albion Park students are abuzz about author, lawyer and human rights advocate, Randa Abdel-Fattah, visiting the school to address students and even run a writing workshop for some of the school’s budding student writers; while St Mary’s Star of the Sea Milton are keenly anticipating a visit from Allison Tait (A.L. Tait), author of the bestselling middle-grade adventure series 'The Mapmaker Chronicles' and the new 'Ateban Cipher' series. 

St Thomas Aquinas Bowral hosted author of over 67 picture, chapter and non-fiction books, Sue Whiting, who generously visited classes over two days last week to share her many insights into the craft of writing.

190819 Book Week authors1 

13Costumes and Dress Ups!

For most, the first thing that springs to mind when thinking of Book Week is dressing up! It’s an exciting and enjoyable time for students, and even staff, parents and younger siblings who also join in and let their imaginations and alter-egos shine.

This year, children in many of our schools are being encouraged to come dressed as their favourite literary characters, a character from one of the CBCA Book of the Year short-listed books, or something to do with this year’s theme: ‘Reading is my secret power’.

We asked some of our students what they are planning on dressing up as this Book Week and why: 

St Paul’s Albion Park
“Wonder Woman, because she saves the world “ – Alexis, aged 9
“Harry Potter, because I like the movies” – Aidan, aged 7
“Mary Poppins, because I like this character best” – Scarlet, aged 7
“Black Panther, because he saves people and fights villains who are bad” – Alivia, aged 8
“A chef, because I like to cook” – Matthew, aged 12

St Michael’s Thirroul

“I am dressing up as a lego man, based on the The Amazing Book of LEGO Star Wars by Dorling Kindersley” – Manny
“I am dressing up as a superhero to go with the theme ‘Reading is my secret power’” – Kyah
“I am dressing up as an army person, because of a book I love called ‘D-day’; it’s all about history!” – Maddis
“I am dressing up like Hermione because I love Harry Potter” – Milly
“I am coming as Thing 1 and my friend is coming as Thing 2. We enjoy Dr Seuss and the book ‘The Cat in the Hat’!” – Rose
“I am going to come as Slappy from Goosegumps” – Kerian

Nazareth Shellharbour City

“I’m coming as a unicorn. I wrote my own story about a unicorn with secret powers” – Celeste, 3H
“I’m coming as a banana from ‘Piranhas don't eat bananas’. His secret power is that he keeps his eyes peeled!” – Noah, 6R

St John’s Dapto

"I am coming as Wonder Woman because she can run fast" – Ally, Kindergarten
“I am coming as the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood when he was dressed up as Grandma – I thought it would be fun and out of the ordinary!” – Sage, Year 6

St Columbkille’s Corrimal

“Matilda. She has super powers and her parents are mean!" – Sophie, 1B
“I’m dressing up as Sword Fighter from Minecraft” – Ben, 1B
"I have a cat costume, because I've actually got a real cat" – Indie, KG
“We’re teaming up and coming as Violet Beauregarde and Willy Wonka from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” – Lilly and Emy, 6G

St Joseph’s Bulli

"Supergirl... because she wears a cape and can fly"
"Batman... because he catches the bad people"
"Sam I Am... because he is my favourite Dr Seuss character”
" favourite character"
"A seal...because we have been learning about seal facts"
"Little Red Riding Hood...because she's cute and I like her red cape"
"The Grand High Witch...because she is my favourite Roald Dahl character and because she has trouble pronouncing 'w' and I had trouble pronouncing 'w' too"
"Anh Do...because I love reading his books, they are interesting"
"Zebra from Madagascar....because he is fun and silly"

190819 Book Week HFI dress ups

Our teachers and staff aren’t planning to miss out on any of the merriment either! We hear reports that many staff have impressive costumes ready to go this year – including the staff at Nazareth Shellharbour City, who are planning to all come dressed as superheroes this week, #squadgoals.

Meanwhile, St Francis of Assisi Warrawong teachers are coming dressed as the rainbow bear from 'The Rainbow Bear' by Stephen Michael King. Each class teacher and SSO has had their class help paint and decorate their rainbow bear costume, ready for this week’s parade. Assistant principal, Rod Green, was good enough to dress up early to give us a sneak peak! [pictured below left]

190819 Book Week SFAW STAB teacher dress up 

17Book Week Displays

Displays are also very popular – at Nazareth Shellharbour City, one of the school’s very talented parents drew an incredible poster for Book Week, now on display at the school for all the children to enjoy. While at St Columbkille’s Corrimal, we’re seeing lots of colour, dress ups, book displays and superhero sparkles!

St John's Campbelltown’s library is also showcasing some beautiful themed artworks from students of all grades; and St Paul’s Albion Park have thoroughly embraced the superhero theme throughout their library; while classes at Good Samaritan Fairy Meadow are engaged in a friendly competition for best-decorated door to celebrate the week’s theme – even principal, Toni Sillis, has joined in the fun! [pictured below]

190819 Book Week GSFM 2 doors

At St Michael’s Thirroul, each class is studying a different shortlisted book for Book Week 2019 and designing a display for that book. We’ve had a look at the start of Kindergarten’s ‘The Rainbow Bear’ and Year 2’s ‘Stink Bug’ artwork displays hanging in the library [pictured below].

One of our favourite displays is the superhero scene at St Michael’s Thirroul [pictured below] created by librarian, Cecilia Medina. Just step into frame and you’re an instant superhero! The students are looking forward to visiting the library throughout the week to get their photo taken posing with a flowing cape, flying over the city skyline.

190819 Book Week SMT



Book Week Competitions

There are competitions galore happening across our schools for Book Week! From a school spelling bee at Holy Cross Helensburgh, to a Book Week poster competition at Good Samaritan Fairy Meadow [pictured below], students are putting a mix of their expressive talents and reading skills to the test.

At St Paul’s Albion Park, students are being invited to design a comic book cover, inventing a new superhero that promotes reading; as well as guess the shortlisted books that will win each category of the CBCA Book of the Year Awards. Students are also busy playing ‘Guess the Super Staff Member’, trying to uncover which staff members are behind each cape and mask disguise in a series of photos. They also have to guess each staff member’s superhero name and superpower – some of the secret identities include:

  • ‘Multiplication Marvel’, able to answer times tables at the speed of light;
  • ‘The Singster’, able to create smiles, warm hearts and bring joy through their voice; and
  • ‘Guardian of Ice Packs’, who will do whatever necessary to protect ice packs, regardless of shape, size or brand.

At St Joseph’s Bulli, students are busy creating 3D dioramas based on a scene or character from their favourite book for the school’s ‘Diorama Competition’; and using video, images, audio recordings and music to create an iMovie trailer to promote one of their favourite books for the ‘Book Trailer Competition’. At the end of the week, the school community will have the opportunity to view all the competition entries in the hall. 

190819 Book Week GSFM comp

Colouring-in competitions are also a favourite, being held among infants classes in several schools including St Paul’s Albion Park, St Joseph’s Bulli, Good Samaritan Fairy Meadow, Nazareth Shellharbour CitySt Michael’s Thirroul [pictured below] and St Therese West Wollongong

A ‘Book Week Book Worm Competition’ is already underway for the secondary students at St Joseph’s Albion Park, with students collecting entry tickets for a range of reading-related activities – winners to be drawn on Friday. Meanwhile, other students are focusing their efforts on having the most inventive costumes for their Book Week parade, with prizes awarded for the best-dressed students – as are the students at St Therese West Wollongong, with similar rewards on offer for their school’s best costumes.

Also at St Therese, back by popular demand, the school’s ‘Cake Baking Competition’ is calling for the best family-baked and decorated cake relating to a book or this year’s Book Week theme. The school’s library windows are also a hot-spot this week, with students gathered around the display of photographs, trying to correctly match each teacher with a photo of their favourite book. 

190819 Book Week SMT 2 comp


18Book Trivia

It’s trivia time! Students will go head to head with each other to test their knowledge of the books students have been reading in class, as well as the CBCA Book of the Year short-listed books.

St Paul’s Albion Park is running a trivia competition at recess during the week; while schools such as Good Samaritan Fairy Meadow and St Therese West Wollongong are hosting trivia in their hall for the whole school. Students will be put in teams with other students from Kindergarten to Year 6 to participate together, using their combined classroom knowledge to be able to answer all the questions.

St Therese is even keeping eager students on their toes with ‘spot trivia’ questions throughout the week. The students got their first taste this morning at assembly, where teacher librarian, Patricia Rose, played an audio recording of a mystery teacher reading the first page of a mystery book – students had to guess the book and the teacher reading it! 

190819 Book Week SJCT 2


19Themed Activities

Between library resources, in-class activities and whole school initiatives, students in our schools have a range of learning, artistry and entertainment to look forward to this week!

At Good Samaritan Fairy Meadow, students will be enjoying a mix of themed classroom activities and rotational activities connected to each book, such as chalk drawing on the playground. Inspired by the book, ‘Chalk Boy’, students will create a piece of pavement art in their mixed class groups.

At Nazareth Shellharbour City, teachers are encouraging students to explore their library’s selection of books and get reading – awarding the highest borrower in each class the chance to wear special superhero capes on library days [pictured below]. 

190819 Book Week NSC

Students at St John’s Dapto will be engaging in literacy activities based on the books they’re studying in class. They’ll also be making use of their local library, with each class walking to Dapto Library to participate in a special Book Week activity.

St John's CampbelltownSt Columbkille’s Corrimal and St Therese West Wollongong are also holding book fairs, where families can donate a treasured book or purchase a book from the selection available to give to the school library – a wonderful legacy for present and future students to share and enjoy. 

At Mount Carmel Catholic College, Varroville, Stage 4 English teachers will be focusing on the notion that ‘words matter' with their students, highlighting the value and enjoyment of reading with “added intensity and focus”. They shared with us some slides they’ll be using as literary inspiration and points of discussion [see below]. A collection of new texts purchased by the school’s P&F in support of Mount Carmel’s whole-school approach to literacy will be another highlight of the school’s Book Week celebrations. 


20Write your own stories and books

We could have next year’s entries for the CBCA Book of the Year Awards among us, with students in our schools trying their hand at writing and developing their own books.

At St Paul’s Albion Park, The Colleen Easton Story Writing competition – personally sponsored each year by principal, Colleen Easton – encourages students to write and illustrate a short story in book format (including a cover) around the theme of ‘superheroes’. Students are enthusiastically diving into creating an original superhero that fights evil, helps others and saves the world, among other heroic adventures and feats.

190819 Book Week SPAP 2

St Therese West Wollongong has also this year launched the inaugural St Therese Dewey Awards – the school’s very own book awards, where students write their own stories for special school-wide recognition. Up for grabs are Highly Commended and Wild Card awards; while the winner of the infants section will win the Silver Dewey trophy and the winner of the primary section, the Gold Dewey trophy – and both will be the first to have their names on the new perpetual trophy too!

Judging is nearly finished for this year’s entries, with over 70 submitted – a very commendable outcome in its first year! Teacher librarian, Patricia Rose, said it has been “a very difficult job for the judges, as the students have produced some outstanding books”. The winners will be announced at St Therese’s Book Week Assembly on Friday, where parents are invited to join in the day’s events and hear the Dewey Awards announcement too.

190819 Book Week HFI 3


21Reading, REading, Reading fun!

What would Book Week be without a concerted effort of reading?! At St Patrick’s Port KemblaSt John's Campbelltown and many of our schools, children have prepared for Book Week by each class reading and responding to the books shortlisted for the CBCA Book of the Year Awards. The children at St Patrick’s are even receiving a free bookmark when they come to the library for borrowing this week.

At Good Samaritan Fairy Meadow, the older students are also taking time throughout Book Week to dress up in superhero masks and spend time with their young buddies on the playground. They’ll be living up to the theme of this week – using their powers to read books beautifully to their buddies!

St Joseph’s Bulli classes will also be presenting one of these CBCA shortlisted books to their school community at the school’s ‘Book Week Showcase’ at the end of the week; while at St Columbkille’s Corrimal, students will enjoy a visit from Corrimal Library staff to further foster a love of books and encourage reading from a variety of sources. Classes can also clearly find all the CBCA shortlisted books, with the book covers making a wonderful, colourful library display.

190819 Book Week SCC2


22A celebration for the whole family

A celebration of children’s books and reading calls for the whole family to be involved – and several of our schools have done just that, inviting parents, grandparents, younger siblings and the extended family to events throughout the week.

At Holy Cross Helensburgh and St Michael’s Thirroul, Book Week festivities are being celebrated in conjunction with Grandparents Day. Holy Cross will be hosting a breakfast and open classrooms; while St Michael’s will hold a morning tea for grandparents, followed by their own open classrooms for students to share the literacy activities they’re working on around the shortlisted CBCA Book Week books. The day will conclude at Helensburgh with a special prayer and blessing involving all the students and grandparents – always a moving, prayerful experience.

At Good Samaritan Fairy Meadow, parents and grandparents are also invited to visit their little ones in their classrooms and the library to see what they’ve been learning in class. A book fair will also be run for students and families to purchase books; followed by a nice picnic lunch together around the school grounds.

St Joseph’s Bulli are similarly welcoming parents and friends to visit their classrooms, then join the students on the playground for morning tea. 

190819 Book Week SPC

190819 Book Week SJCT2

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