AISHK 25th Anniversary Throwback: Book Week

Book Week parade 1996

An AISHK tradition since 1996, an Australian event since 1945, Book Week is a celebration of Australian children’s authors and illustrators. Each year the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) release a shortlist of books for various categories including ‘Book of the Year: Early Childhood’ and ‘Picture Book of the Year’. Throughout the week there are planned activities based on the year’s theme, including the colourful traditional parade where students dress as their favourite book character.

Check out the Book Week themes from 1996-2020:

  • 2020: Curious Creatures, Wild Minds 
  • 2019: Reading is My Secret Power
  • 2018: Find Your Treasure
  • 2017: Escape to Everywhere
  • 2016: Australia: Story Country
  • 2015: Books light up our world
  • 2014: Connect to reading
  • 2013: Read across the Universe
  • 2012: Champions Read
  • 2011: One World, Many Stories
  • 2010: Across the Story Bridge
  • 2009: Book Safari
  • 2008: Fuel Your Mind 
  • 2007: READiscover
  • 2006: Book Now!
  • 2005: Reading Rocks!
  • 2004: Doorways
  • 2003: Oceans of Stories
  • 2002: Book Week – Book Feast
  • 2001: A Book Odyssey
  • 2000: The Edge of Tomorrow
  • 1999: Weave the Book Web
  • 1998: Put Yourself in the Picture
  • 1997: Bookaleidoscope
  • 1996: Anywhere Anytime Anybook

One of the highlights of Book Week in 1996 was the visit from author Lorraine Wilson, a good friend of Margaret Merrell (Primary Principal, 1995-2003). As the writer in residence, Lorraine (pictured below) worked with the Primary classes to help students write their own picture books on a ‘Hong Kong Kids’ theme for Book Week. Lorraine is a well-known author of picture story books, including the ‘City Kids’, ‘Country Kids’ and ‘Footy Kids’ series. Margaret recalls more about how the ‘Hong Kong Kids’ theme came to be.

“Lorraine had written a series of books called ‘City Kids’ which focused on multicultural inner-city students and their lives. They were humorous and endeavoured to inspire students who may have been reluctant readers. Later on she did ‘Country Kids’ and ‘Footy Kids’, which had a book for each AFL team- our kids loved these. As we were in Hong Kong and they were all kids, ‘Hong Kong Kids’ seemed a logical theme. The classes spent time talking and thinking about aspects of life particular to HK. It could be a small aspect like having to catch overcrowded trains or the smells of street food vendors. The students then wrote and illustrated their own books based on an aspect of their life in Hong Kong.”

Book Week spread from the school’s 1996 yearbook

We asked some past library staff to reflect on Book Week and their memories of AISHK.

“Some of the great Book Week memories I have at AISHK were the displays we had in the library which created quite a lot of excitement. All of the displays were huge and took over the entire library and even beyond. In 2002 for ‘Book Feast’, there was a very long table fully set up with artificial food in the entry to the library and all the books about food were featured and we held ‘book tastings’. In 2003 for ‘Oceans of Stories’, we hung a huge fishing net to the ceiling and caught book covers in the net. In 2004 for ‘Doorways’, every room in the school had a decorated doorway.

“Some of the highlights include the visit by Morris Gleitzman and Mem Fox to talk to all the students in the school on the school’s opening at the new Kowloon Tong Campus in 2001. The library was integral in initiating this. The other was the Harry Potter sleepover where we had students from all year groups sleep over in the library to await the release of the ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’ at exactly 6am on the Saturday morning of 21 June, 2003.

“Another highlight is when a mother visited to thank me for helping her child to not only love reading, but to learn to read. I introduced the Year 2 student to a series of books that were just right for her. Another was a returned Year 12 student who thanked the library staff for making the library a safe place for learning. My most cherished memories illustrates what impact the library programme can have.” – Dianne McKenzie (Teacher Librarian, 1998-2004)

“I joined AISHK in 1999 at the Cheung Sha Wan campus, during the construction of the campus at Kowloon Tong. My job was to design and plan for a brand new library. The state-of-the-art library opened in the new campus in 2001. It started with one Teacher Librarian (TL), 275 students and a small collection of old, tatty, uncovered books, inherited from other schools.  It grew quickly to a staff of 4 for 1000 pupils and a vastly expanded collection of modern resources to meet the needs of students and teachers from diverse backgrounds. It played an exciting role in improving the overall learning and teaching across the school and became the envy of other schools in Hong Kong.

“Since the early days, Book Week was always a highlight and an opportunity to promote literature appreciation, creative writing and make curriculum connections. One of my favourites was in 2004 with the theme ‘Doorways’ (reading is the key that opens doors to learning). It worked beautifully to connect students’ imaginations with other lives, cultures, worlds and values. All classrooms decorated their doorways to highlight a unit of inquiry, a favourite class book or poem.” – Andrea Walker ( Teacher Librarian (1999-2005)

“Every Book Week during my 13 years at AISHK I remember as being exciting, engaging, fun, and loved by all. The students enjoyed the opportunity to vote for their favourite shortlisted books each year. The fact that Book Week has always been an R-6 celebration of reading involving teachers, library staff, students, parents and especially the myriad of visiting authors and illustrators is the essence of its magic!

Darryll and Anne Hopkins

“One particular Book Week stands out where our Primary Teacher Librarian read the book called ‘Chip’ by Kylie Howarth. It’s about a seagull who always loved to eat hot potato chips purchased by picnickers at the seaside. As the story unfolded, the Library Assistants secretly cooked hot potato chips in the workroom of the library to be shared excitedly in individual hand made chip cartons by the class at the end of the tale. It became a tantalizing sensory experience for everyone in the library, even the Secondary students studying at the far end of the library!

“It is hard to choose my favourite memory at AISHK, as there are so many! The Book Week costumes, worn by students, staff and the school executive, were always a highlight with their ingenuity and originality. It was wonderful to see different staff teams all wearing a shared themed design (e.g. Cinderella and her Step Sisters or the Wizard of Oz and Friends). I loved being part of the generous parent and student volunteers who would regularly donate their time to help us in the library. I also loved the way the students, especially the Secondary students, saw the library as a safe and welcoming haven. I treasured being part of the wonderful library team and watching our students grow from Preschool into successful graduating HSC or IB students – a number of whom I keep in touch with today in various cities around the world. Some of these students are part of the AISHK Alumni and are now around 30 years of age! My experience at AISHK is definitely one of the highlights of my teaching career with many happy memories! Happy 2020 Book Week AISHK!” – Darryll Hopkins (Head of Library, 2006-2018)

“I remember lots of dressing up and one year the older grades were allowed to join in which they relished greatly! I remember having fantastic class artwork displays in the library when each grade was allocated a picture book to celebrate. We always had an author – Narelle Oliver even took Art classes with the senior school. The assemblies were fun and we always shared a story on the big screen.” – Megan Lindsay (Primary Teacher Librarian, 2007-2011)

Book Week parade 2017

Book Week today is a whole school event where there is shared reading time between Primary and Secondary students, activities and learning to celebrate the shortlisted books, assemblies led by the library leaders and the all-important parade. Despite the absence of students on campus in 2020 due to Covid-19, Book Week has adapted to ensure students still get to enjoy this much-loved event through online events and a virtual parade.

We asked some current library staff to reflect on Book Week and their memories of AISHK.

“With this being my eighteenth year at AISHK, there have been so many Book Week highlights. One in particular was when Mrs Megan O’Connor was Teacher Librarian. I remember the students’ delight at the appearance of ‘The Very Cranky Bear’ on stage during the Book Week Early Childhood assembly, they couldn’t believe it! A special feature has always been the parade, which has become a Book Week tradition and is always a wonderful experience for the whole school community. A key Book Week highlight for me, as Primary Teacher Librarian, is the planning, preparing and presenting of the Book Week assemblies with the wonderful Year 6 Library Leaders. In 2017, we rolled out the red carpet for the ‘Escape to Everywhere’ assembly and in 2018, some lucky students in the audience found some treasure hidden under their chairs for the theme ‘Find Your Treasure’. In 2019, we discovered reading gives us super powers and in 2020, well, let’s wait and see…

“Some of the best memories of the school over the years have been the times when the whole school community comes together, whether it be Book Week, the Welcome BBQ,  Jingle and Mingle or special events such as AISHK’s 20th Anniversary. They are always a relaxed and fun way to celebrate and catch up with old friends and, at the same time, provide us with the opportunity to form new friendships.” – Nicole Atkins (Primary Classroom Teacher, 2003 – 2016 and Primary Teacher Librarian, 2017- ) 

“My favourite Book Week memory is when we ate hot chips in the library in 2017. This is the same as Darryll’s Book Week highlight. My favourite Book Week tradition would be the parade and seeing the class teachers dress up according to the theme. My favourite memory of the school would be Jingle and Mingle each year.” – Kathy Thomas (Library Assistant, 2017- )

“My favourite activity in Book Week is the dress up parade. There are always many wonderful comments about the ideas and creativity of the costumes. Especially the parade in 2019 where many teachers, Secondary and Primary students all dressed up and carried their favourite books. Everyone enjoyed the great time and it was fun!” – Rita Chow (Library Assistant, 2011- )

Over the years various authors have visited the school, sometimes as a result of their involvement in the Children’s Laureate Program. Authors include Leigh Hobbs, Morris Gleitzman, Mem Fox, Sarah Brennan, Markus Zusak, Scot Gardner, Jan Latta, Gavin Coates, Nick Earls, Graeme Base, Jacqueline Harvey, Mike Brumby.

Book Week 2019

According to Chris Neilsen (Principal, 1996-2003), it is important to celebrate “special” Australian events to give students a sense of Australian culture and education including Book Week. “Whilst in HK, it is vitally important to provide the children with the same opportunities and experiences as students in schools in Australia,” Neilsen said. This sentiment stills rings true today, as current Head of School Mark Hemphill explains, Book Week continues to be one of the most important weeks on the AISHK calendar.

“Like other Australian schools, we relish the opportunity to promote the joy and love of reading as a lifelong passion and hobby with immeasurable benefit. Right across the school, staff and students enjoy the opportunity to read the latest Australian shortlisted books and the annual dress up parade is a highlight of the year, even this year when it is a virtual parade. Proudly for 25 years we have celebrated the joy and importance of Book Week.”