State Library Victoria temporary closure Read more

Home > Interact With Us > Media centre > A new world of wonders opens up for young minds

A new world of wonders opens up for young minds

Media release

Thursday 13 February 2020

More than forty grade one and two students from Kilsyth Primary School let their imaginations run wild today as part of the inaugural Pauline Gandel Children’s Quarter Education Program. The program provides primary schools in need[1] free transport and access to State Library Victoria’s dedicated, tailor-made schools’ program.

Made possible by a $2 million donation from Gandel Philanthropy to establish the Pauline Gandel Children’s Quarter and a range of inspiring learning initiatives, the Education Program addresses Australia’s falling literacy rates[2] by fostering a love of reading from a young age.

Almost one in six Victorian prep students start school vulnerable, or at risk, due to under-developed language and cognitive skills, and 39% of Victorian year nine students are below national proficient reading standards.[3]

The program creates engaging, interactive and immersive learning experiences for students. They can also take part in special events with well-known Australian children’s authors and illustrators, along with workshops exploring critical literacy and the wonders of stories and book creation.

State Library Victoria CEO Kate Torney thanked Gandel Philanthropy for its vision and generosity in supporting these sessions.

“We know that a child’s enjoyment of reading has a huge impact on their educational success[4] and the State Library, in partnership with Gandel Philanthropy, is pleased to further promote an early love of reading.

“When it comes to reading, Aussie kids are falling behind their peers internationally.[5] The Pauline Gandel Children’s Quarter Education Program breaks down the barriers to reading. It’s a simple but effective way to help boost literacy levels, which are essential to the health and prosperity of the next generation of Victorians,” said Ms Torney.

Chair and Trustee of Gandel Philanthropy John Gandel AC and Pauline Gandel AC said they believe this program is vital for kids in need.

“Showing children the magic they can find in books can be life-changing. We remember the joy that reading to our own kids brought and we want to extend that feeling to children who aren’t necessarily exposed to books at home.

“Early childhood development is something we are deeply passionate about. By providing opportunities for kids to learn in new and inspiring environments we know we can help build confidence, spark imaginations and ultimately enrich lives,” said Mr and Mrs Gandel.

The Pauline Gandel Children’s Quarter opened as part of the Library’s $88.1 million Vision 2020 redevelopment in December 2019. Schools interested in taking part in the program can visit

About Pauline Gandel Children’s Quarter
The Pauline Gandel Children’s Quarter is a free, purpose-built space for children and families to read, learn and play. Designed with input from children and children’s book authors, it features a two-level storybook castle, with the top floor dedicated to kids aged 8-12. Younger children are catered for downstairs with a tactile, sensory landscape and easy-to-access family rooms. It houses a new children’s book collection of around 4000 titles including non-fiction, junior readers, picture books and board books. With reading nooks, a makerspace and a range of kid-designed programs on offer, the focus here is on stimulating a love of reading, learning and play.

About Gandel Philanthropy
Gandel Philanthropy is one of Australia’s largest independent private family philanthropic funds. John Gandel AC and Pauline Gandel AC are actively engaged in their philanthropic initiatives and they are universally recognised for their generosity, commitment and passion in supporting both Jewish and general causes. Through Gandel Philanthropy, over the years they have invested over $100 million dollars in the community, supporting various charitable causes in Australia and overseas.

[1] Primary schools with an Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage of less than 1000
[2] PISA 2018: Australian student performance in long-term decline, ACER 2019
[3] 2018 Australian Early Development Census (AEDC)
[4] ‘Reading is good for you’, Australian Publishers Association, 2018
[5] Highlights from PIRLS 2016, Australia’s Perspective, Selected findings from the full report ‘Reporting Australia’s results PIRLS 2016’, ACER 2017