Monday, August 25, 2014
24th August Ruth Park (1917 - 2010)
Today would have been the birthday of New Zealand born Australian author Ruth Park who wrote for both children and adults. But I was pleased to learn on her website that she wanted to write more for children as she saw that as a challenge. She is well known for the children's classics The Muddle-Headed Wombat and Playing Beatie Bow. My clientele cannot read either of these independently yet so they are more likely to meet Ruth, reading When the Wind Changed; The Gigantic Balloon or The Big Brass Key which are in the library.
When I first started teaching every child knew and talked about When the Wind Changed. Now the students I teach have parents who don't want their children reading this book because 'it has a gun in it'. The world has changed. In some ways my students are very connected to the world because of technology, yet because they are not allowed to or do not watch the news, there is much less conversation about national or international news, what is happening in their community or other communities within their city. Their general knowledge, vocabulary and knowledge of idiom and proverbs has diminished. They haven't heard the saying about being careful not to pull a face in case the wind changes and it stays like that. Thus, I'm always in a quandary...to read or not to read? Old books that are part of Australian children's literature deserve to be read, even if they need to scaffolded by their historical setting. Recently I did this with Junko Morimoto's Kojuro and the Bears, another story 'with guns' and I was amazed by the discussion that followed.
Ruth Park will also be remembered as the mother of other Australian Children's literature stalwarts, Kilmeny and Deborah Niland.