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Nothing Without Joy: The Children’s Book Club

By: DR. CARMEL BRENNAN

Tuesday 10 January 2017

‘Nothing without joy’ Loris Mallaguzzi, Reggio Emilia

Have you seen our new Book Club? The aim of the book club is to allow children share their stories with other children. The way it works is that a group of children create a story – a story from their play or a story they enact, draw or compose themselves. You send their story to us in Early Childhood Ireland, (with permission) and we store them in our online Children’s Library for you to access and read with the children. You could even send the story home so that children can read it with their parents. Like every book club we will select one book per month to share with all our Early Childhood Ireland members and we will generate conversation about the book.

I just love the stories in our Children’s book club! I have the link to them open on my phone and whenever I have a moment or need a lift I open them. The phrase that comes to mind on each reading is ‘Nothing without Joy’ from Malaguzzi, the founder of Reggio Children. The stories and drawings fill me with joy – the simple beauty of the line that represents the stalk that grows from the seed, the beautiful coming together of thoughts and ideas that emerge when human beings join in co-constructing a story, the ease of storytelling when imagination flows and there is no right or wrong, the image of life contained in them – a life full of wonder, possibilities and surprise, the drama of people in trouble and things being righted, the care for the seeds, the birds, the farmers, the poor cook, the hibernating bear, and the making of devilment, fun and giggles. Please, please take a look, but please don’t be in a hurry. Wallow for a while and bring your heart and soul to it. Let the children tenderise you – introduce you again to child-like beauty. Child's story about a seed - Nothing without joy: The Children's Book ClubFollow the instructions for growing a seed and maybe you too will ‘Get the magic and grow’ so that you can see what’s on the other side. Swish through the long wavy grass and splash through the deep dark river and let the words and images linger in your mouth and on your mind. Read about the jelly poos and you too will laugh and wobble like the Jelly King. We know these stories are composed by children because only children can imagine so freely. As adults, we need to get better at being joyful. Read these stories with your children and give them permission to let their imaginations fly. The educators who documented these stories saw the joy – and wanted to spread it. That’s what happens when we document and make children’s thinking visible. We spread the joy. I for one am very grateful to them. Which of our stories does it for you?

Visit the book club now: https://www.earlychildhoodireland.ie/work/quality-practice/childrens-book-club/the-books/

Want to get started too? Here are a few ideas, but you may have you own, which we’d love to hear! Magnavacchi and Wilenski (2015) offered a tiny baby doll as a provocation for story making at the playdough table. On another occasion a child draws a monster and the story takes flight.
What provocations can you provide to get the children telling stories?

Please share your thoughts and ideas and keep checking back to the Book Club to see what other children are coming up with!

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