The magic of books

The H.B.Williams Memorial Library Sail into Summer Reading programme, Kia Tere Atu ki te Panui i te Raumati, came of age this year. Principal librarian: Children and Young Adult Services Te Rangi Rangi Tangohau talks to Justine Tyerman about her long association with the programme and the joy of introducing children to the magic of books.

The H.B.Williams Memorial Library Sail into Summer Reading programme, Kia Tere Atu ki te Panui i te Raumati, came of age this year. Principal librarian: Children and Young Adult Services Te Rangi Rangi Tangohau talks to Justine Tyerman about her long association with the programme and the joy of introducing children to the magic of books.

H.B.Williams Memorial Library Principal Librarian: Children and Young Adult Services Te Rangi Rangi Tangohau, in her element, surrounded by children’s books.
Anna Bailey and puppets entertain children at the H.B.Williams Library summer reading programme.
Levi Lamb with his creations at the ‘bugalicious’ session.
Poppy Jerome (left) and Maria Atsalis with their bumblebees.
Anna Bailey and her strigbean puppets.
The story of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s life was vividly brought to life by Wellington puppeteer Anna Bailey with her stringbean puppets.
Library Puppet Show - Anna Bailey

THE animated expressions on the faces of the young children were as enchanting as the puppets they were interacting with at H.B.Williams Memorial Library this week.

Forty or so preschoolers and primary school students and their parents and caregivers gathered in the children’s section of the library for one of many delightful activities and entertainments provided free by the Sail into Summer Reading programme: Kia Tere Atu ki te Panui i te Raumati, which runs throughout the school holidays.

The programme, sponsored by the Eastern and Central Community Trust, is delivered to 23 libraries. The local co-ordinator, Principal Librarian: Children and Young Adult Services Te Rangi Rangi Tangohau, is something of an icon in Gisborne. Te Rangi Rangi has been involved with the programme since soon after its inception 21 years ago.

During that time, she has seen thousands of children progress through the programme, many of whom come back year after year, starting as toddlers and leaving at the age of 13.

“In fact some of them just can’t stay away,” she says, pointing out a tall, slim young man behind the front desk who used to come to the holiday programmes as a child and now works as a librarian. He’s one of a number on the staff who began their association with the library as small children attending the summer reading programme sessions.

Such are the good memories and habits laid down in those early years, that many of these “children” are now bringing their own children to the holiday programmes.

“They say to me: ‘I remember you from when I was a child’, and I remember them too,” says Te Rangi Rangi.

“I love my work,” she says, beaming as she shows me the current six-week programme packed with fun, book-based activities.

“Our aim is to keep children actively engaged in reading over the holiday period and make sure their reading levels are at least maintained if not elevated by the time they go back to school.

“It’s about creating a passion for reading and life-long learning.”

Te Rangi Rangi, who lives at Tolaga Bay, got into library work when she was in her late 30s.

The librarian at Tolaga Bay Area School had gone on leave and the principal asked her to fill in.

“The librarian never came back so I stayed on and attended librarian school which created a career pathway for me.

“I applied for a position at H.B.Williams Memorial Library as an Intermediate Librarian and then, when a vacancy came up for the Principal Children’s Librarian, I applied and was appointed to that role.

“And I’m still here two decades on and I’m still passionate about my work.

“I love it because of the changes reading can make to a child’s life, connecting them with words, providing the life skills and knowledge they need for their future, promoting literacy and life-long learning.”

Te Rangi Rangi was not a great reader as a child, she says.

“I grew up in a family of nine and we rarely visited the library because we couldn’t all fit in the car. I was aware of words playing around inside my head but it was only when I became involved with libraries as an adult that I became a prolific reader.”

The highlights for Te Rangi Rangi are celebrating the children’s achievements to win their confidence and get them engaged.

“It sometimes takes a lot of patience and inventiveness. I sing with them, crawl around on the floor, change the format, do interactive activities . . . whatever it takes to get their confidence and make a connection.”

Te Rangi Rangi, switches between languages, te reo Maori or English, depending on the make-up of the group.

“The kids are really receptive to this approach and quickly learn from each other.

“We have a range of beautifully illustrated, simple books in te reo Maori and English for the little ones.

“I love to hear them telling or ‘reviewing’ the story about the book they’ve just read. It doesn’t matter if it’s accurate or not. What’s important is they are using their imagination to retell the story.

“The aim is to have fun reading and enhance communication, creativity and self-esteem.”

She can spot the ones who see the magic of words.

“You can tell by the looks on their faces.”

The reading programmes operate throughout the year during the main school holiday periods and are all sponsored by the trust with the exception of Maths is Fun in the October holidays, funded by Wairarapa REAP.

“We have a finale party for the children at the end of the summer series and we invite the mayor and councillors, and members of the Eastern and Central Community Trust who sponsor the programmes so they can see the results of their funding and support.”

The party for nine-to 13-year-olds or ‘Tweens’ who have completed the iRead programme this vacation period is a reef ecology tour and stingray-feeding experience with Dive Tatapouri, followed by a picnic. This is fully-funded by the trust as a reward for the children who have taken part in the programme and read and reviewed four or more books. Children also receive a free book of their choice for every three reviews they complete.

“The Tween programme relies heavily on social media to attract them back to the library,” says Te Rangi Rangi.

“There’s a very active component to the programme like making a badge and their own magazine.”

During the school term, the library also runs Toddler Time which is free for parents and under-fives every Wednesday morning.

The remainder of Te Rangi Rangi’s time is taken up with planning the comprehensive programme and creating a myriad of varied activities and resources for all ages.

Last week, the story of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s life was vividly brought to life by Wellington puppeteer Anna Bailey with her stringbean puppets, followed later in the week by a craft activity making a traditional Mexican talisman.

The little ones had fun reading “bugalicious” stories about cute bugs and making their own butterflies and bees.

Coming up next week, is the Little Kowhai Tree, a story about growing up, told and sung in both English and Maori by The Little Dog Barking Theatre Company.

It’s a busy life for the mother of four and grandmother of three who commutes from Tolaga Bay. But she has two helpers over the hectic holiday period — her colleague and fellow children’s librarian Raschel Eesa-Danes and a summer student Venus Taare.

In addition, over the past three or four years, Te Rangi Rangi has been judging Te Kura Pounamu, the children and teen book awards for books written in te reo Maori, part of the New Zealand Book Awards for Young People.

“This reflects both her skill with the language and knowledge of literature for young people,” says Pene Walsh, H.B.Williams Memorial Library Cultural Activities Operations Manager.

Te Rangi Rangi is also a member of the International Library Association which promotes friendships among librarians all over the world.

“I’ve been matched up with librarians in Pennsylvania, Poland and Spain, and we share activities, programmes and ideas. It provides a fresh approach from another culture. We have similar philosophies but different interpretations.”

The library as an institution has been around for thousands of years and endured massive changes — from stone tablets to computer tablets and many incarnations in between, she says.

Te Rangi Rangi has also witnessed huge changes in her two decades as a librarian.

“The e-book was very popular for a while but the physical book has fought back and regained its popularity,” she says.

In Te Rangi Rangi’s ideal world, she would like to see every child in Tairawhiti with a library card of their own.

“And having grown up with little access to libraries, I’d like to see transport provided for every child to get to a library, especially from rural or lower socio-economic communities — in the meantime there is always our e-library.

“Mostly, I’d like to see every child reading for pleasure, even if it’s just 10 to 20 minutes a day . . . it’s the most powerful of tools for creating life-long learners.’

THE animated expressions on the faces of the young children were as enchanting as the puppets they were interacting with at H.B.Williams Memorial Library this week.

Forty or so preschoolers and primary school students and their parents and caregivers gathered in the children’s section of the library for one of many delightful activities and entertainments provided free by the Sail into Summer Reading programme: Kia Tere Atu ki te Panui i te Raumati, which runs throughout the school holidays.

The programme, sponsored by the Eastern and Central Community Trust, is delivered to 23 libraries. The local co-ordinator, Principal Librarian: Children and Young Adult Services Te Rangi Rangi Tangohau, is something of an icon in Gisborne. Te Rangi Rangi has been involved with the programme since soon after its inception 21 years ago.

During that time, she has seen thousands of children progress through the programme, many of whom come back year after year, starting as toddlers and leaving at the age of 13.

“In fact some of them just can’t stay away,” she says, pointing out a tall, slim young man behind the front desk who used to come to the holiday programmes as a child and now works as a librarian. He’s one of a number on the staff who began their association with the library as small children attending the summer reading programme sessions.

Such are the good memories and habits laid down in those early years, that many of these “children” are now bringing their own children to the holiday programmes.

“They say to me: ‘I remember you from when I was a child’, and I remember them too,” says Te Rangi Rangi.

“I love my work,” she says, beaming as she shows me the current six-week programme packed with fun, book-based activities.

“Our aim is to keep children actively engaged in reading over the holiday period and make sure their reading levels are at least maintained if not elevated by the time they go back to school.

“It’s about creating a passion for reading and life-long learning.”

Te Rangi Rangi, who lives at Tolaga Bay, got into library work when she was in her late 30s.

The librarian at Tolaga Bay Area School had gone on leave and the principal asked her to fill in.

“The librarian never came back so I stayed on and attended librarian school which created a career pathway for me.

“I applied for a position at H.B.Williams Memorial Library as an Intermediate Librarian and then, when a vacancy came up for the Principal Children’s Librarian, I applied and was appointed to that role.

“And I’m still here two decades on and I’m still passionate about my work.

“I love it because of the changes reading can make to a child’s life, connecting them with words, providing the life skills and knowledge they need for their future, promoting literacy and life-long learning.”

Te Rangi Rangi was not a great reader as a child, she says.

“I grew up in a family of nine and we rarely visited the library because we couldn’t all fit in the car. I was aware of words playing around inside my head but it was only when I became involved with libraries as an adult that I became a prolific reader.”

The highlights for Te Rangi Rangi are celebrating the children’s achievements to win their confidence and get them engaged.

“It sometimes takes a lot of patience and inventiveness. I sing with them, crawl around on the floor, change the format, do interactive activities . . . whatever it takes to get their confidence and make a connection.”

Te Rangi Rangi, switches between languages, te reo Maori or English, depending on the make-up of the group.

“The kids are really receptive to this approach and quickly learn from each other.

“We have a range of beautifully illustrated, simple books in te reo Maori and English for the little ones.

“I love to hear them telling or ‘reviewing’ the story about the book they’ve just read. It doesn’t matter if it’s accurate or not. What’s important is they are using their imagination to retell the story.

“The aim is to have fun reading and enhance communication, creativity and self-esteem.”

She can spot the ones who see the magic of words.

“You can tell by the looks on their faces.”

The reading programmes operate throughout the year during the main school holiday periods and are all sponsored by the trust with the exception of Maths is Fun in the October holidays, funded by Wairarapa REAP.

“We have a finale party for the children at the end of the summer series and we invite the mayor and councillors, and members of the Eastern and Central Community Trust who sponsor the programmes so they can see the results of their funding and support.”

The party for nine-to 13-year-olds or ‘Tweens’ who have completed the iRead programme this vacation period is a reef ecology tour and stingray-feeding experience with Dive Tatapouri, followed by a picnic. This is fully-funded by the trust as a reward for the children who have taken part in the programme and read and reviewed four or more books. Children also receive a free book of their choice for every three reviews they complete.

“The Tween programme relies heavily on social media to attract them back to the library,” says Te Rangi Rangi.

“There’s a very active component to the programme like making a badge and their own magazine.”

During the school term, the library also runs Toddler Time which is free for parents and under-fives every Wednesday morning.

The remainder of Te Rangi Rangi’s time is taken up with planning the comprehensive programme and creating a myriad of varied activities and resources for all ages.

Last week, the story of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s life was vividly brought to life by Wellington puppeteer Anna Bailey with her stringbean puppets, followed later in the week by a craft activity making a traditional Mexican talisman.

The little ones had fun reading “bugalicious” stories about cute bugs and making their own butterflies and bees.

Coming up next week, is the Little Kowhai Tree, a story about growing up, told and sung in both English and Maori by The Little Dog Barking Theatre Company.

It’s a busy life for the mother of four and grandmother of three who commutes from Tolaga Bay. But she has two helpers over the hectic holiday period — her colleague and fellow children’s librarian Raschel Eesa-Danes and a summer student Venus Taare.

In addition, over the past three or four years, Te Rangi Rangi has been judging Te Kura Pounamu, the children and teen book awards for books written in te reo Maori, part of the New Zealand Book Awards for Young People.

“This reflects both her skill with the language and knowledge of literature for young people,” says Pene Walsh, H.B.Williams Memorial Library Cultural Activities Operations Manager.

Te Rangi Rangi is also a member of the International Library Association which promotes friendships among librarians all over the world.

“I’ve been matched up with librarians in Pennsylvania, Poland and Spain, and we share activities, programmes and ideas. It provides a fresh approach from another culture. We have similar philosophies but different interpretations.”

The library as an institution has been around for thousands of years and endured massive changes — from stone tablets to computer tablets and many incarnations in between, she says.

Te Rangi Rangi has also witnessed huge changes in her two decades as a librarian.

“The e-book was very popular for a while but the physical book has fought back and regained its popularity,” she says.

In Te Rangi Rangi’s ideal world, she would like to see every child in Tairawhiti with a library card of their own.

“And having grown up with little access to libraries, I’d like to see transport provided for every child to get to a library, especially from rural or lower socio-economic communities — in the meantime there is always our e-library.

“Mostly, I’d like to see every child reading for pleasure, even if it’s just 10 to 20 minutes a day . . . it’s the most powerful of tools for creating life-long learners.’

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