Curiouser-Chat Group - 15-1

Curiouser & Curiouser

The Bendigo Literacy Chat Group

Georgie Eberbach

Georgie Eberbach studied Education at La Trobe University's Bendigo campus, including a major elective sequence in children's literature. She now teaches Literacy and Literature at Bendigo South East Secondary College.

Every second Tuesday of the month, a group of people meet at a restaurant in downtown Bendigo, Victoria, Australia. Like so many similar groups all over the world, we talk about books. We chat and laugh, we explain and argue, and we lead each other through the wide world we all love - the world of children's and young adult literature.

All of us are adults. Officially, The Bendigo Literacy Chat Group is formally organised and run by the Australian Literacy Educators' Association Central Victorian Council, with support from the regional branch of the Children's Book Council of Australia. Unofficially, the group is simply a collection of lovers of literature. It is made up of teachers (ranging from early childhood all the way through to university), librarians, university students, and even authors. Because we meet once a month at a local restaurant, we share the double enjoyments of excellent food and the company of a fabulous group of literacy and literature lovers.

Chat group provides the opportunity to share our latest reads. There are no exceptions on titles: we discuss anything and everything. Discussions can centre around the reader's personal enjoyment and recommendations of new and recent texts, as well as possible classroom applications, or it might look at adaptations for the screen (successful or otherwise!), or simply reminding of childhood favourites and dusty classics.

The group allows for quality networking and sharing of practice. We share ideas for our classrooms, libraries and families as well as simple enthusiasms for a good book. The group has provided a warm welcome to the professional world for training and graduate teachers. It also allows us to celebrate the local talent we are so lucky to have in our region, writers like Glenda Millard, Pam Harvey and Lorraine Marwood, and to look at texts from their perspective.

The group began in 1997 when Sarah Mayor Cox (literacy and literature lecturer at La Trobe University - twitter book thoughts @BespokeShespoke) arranged for a few friends from the CBCA and ALEA branches to meet to share their favourite books and ideas. It faded out after a few years due to the pressures of work and growing families, but Sarah was determined and started it up again in 2006 with its current "monthly meeting at a restaurant" format.

When I joined the chat group the regular attendance was quite small. It took us a while to find the right place to meet as, strangely, not every restaurant seems to welcome a loud and enthusiastic chat group! But now, our numbers have significantly increased over the last 18 months and, at present, our meetings can include up to 20 people on any one night. We have a large number of regulars and others who pop in and out month by month. As a result, one of my jobs is to scribble notes to try to summarise the wide and rambling discussions and to email these to those who cannot make it that night.

Members come from a number of organisations, including ALEA, CBCA and SLAV (School Library Association of Victoria). From an official point of view, the time spent at chat group is classified as career 'Professional Development' and counts toward the set number of PD hours required by the Education Department that employs quite a few of us. We certainly work together to spread the word of literacy and literature in our region and improve the opportunities for our students but, first and foremost, we have a lovely time as a group of friends chatting about books!


Georgie Eberbach

Volume 15, Issue 1 The Looking Glass, January/February, 2011

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"The Bendigo Literacy Chat Group" © Georgie Eberbach, 2011.

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The Looking Glass: new perspectives on children's literature

ISBN 1551-5680