Eirlys Hunter stumbles on an Auckland primary school marketing our children’s books to the world.
Like many writers I’m always on the look-out for new opportunities to procrastinate. For me, procrastination mainly involves browsing for comment and reviews online. Professional development, you understand. Research. Recently my browsing led me to a website that provides a different kind of distraction from Arts & Letters Daily and The Guardian.
Go to www.ptengland.school.nz, and click on podcasts. You’ll see a list of titles, all of New Zealand children’s books. Click on one of them and you’ll hear something like this:
You’re listening to KPE. You’re listening to KPE!
Uani: Haere mai, haere mai to KPE. You’re listening to Korero Point England, coming to you from Auckland, New Zealand. Hi, my name is Uani and I am a year six student at Point England School. As you know we read a lot of books written by New Zealand authors in our class. Joining me today is Sam and she’s going to tell us about the book she’s just read. Kia ora, Sam.
Sam: Kia ora, Uani.
Uani: That book you’ve got there looks pretty interesting. Can you tell us what you’ve been reading?
Sam: Sure. This book is called … and it is by New Zealand author … .
An impressive synopsis of the book follows, with interjections and questions from the interviewer. While they talk we see photos of the two girls, and photos of the book jacket and some of the inside pages. Their four-minute discussion ends with: “Thanks for the korero, Sam. To our listeners out there we have been talking about …. by… . Order it online if you can’t find a copy at your local library.”
KPE is a weekly discussion of New Zealand children’s books recorded by students from year five and six at Point England School, a decile one primary school in Auckland. They have been podcasting to the world for over three years; by the end of April there were 217 episodes, which can all be found on their website (get to less recent podcasts via the KPE blog). That’s 217 reviews of New Zealand children’s books, reachable with just a few clicks.
As I write, a tally shows that the KPE blog has been visited in the last 24 hours by people in London and Lima, Melbourne and Wollongong, as well as from all over New Zealand. Comments have been left on the site by teachers and children: that is, by potential book buyers and readers from all over the world.
I only just cope with current technology, and as a result I can be dismissive of new media. It’s fear, of course, fear of ageing and being left behind. I say that it’s the book or nothing for me. But the children of Point England School demonstrate that it’s the book and, not the book or. They’re using 21st century technology to korero about New Zealand children’s books, and in the 21st century their korero can be heard anywhere in the global village. Go KPE!