The Power of Reading

Last week Mrs Rodwell and I spent two days at the University of Canberra listening to authors of children’s books as well as other University lecturers presenting information about children’s books and writing.

The conference was a wonderful opportunity to meet authors including the author of the Zac Power series that many of our Cedars students enjoy reading.

It was also a privilege to meet the 2018-2019 Children’s Laureate and Reading Hour Children’s Ambassador Morris Gleitzman who is the author of many amazing children’s books.  During the concluding address the Children’s Laureate Morris Gleitzman shared the opportunity he had recently to make a speech in Parliament House about his work of writing books for children and the incredible power of reading.  As he talked about the process of writing books for children from 8 years -12 years, he also reflected on the nature of his reading audience and the benefits reading has on their lives.

The following is an extract from that speech delivered in Parliament House in September this year.

“They (children) are seasoned adventurers. They may be young in years, but thanks to their reading they are old hands at grappling with big and difficult problems, sometimes fearsomely big. They’ve learned from the stories they read that it often takes problems to bring out the best in us. Problems that demand bravery, honesty, creative thinking, empathy, resilience, research skills unblunted by fear, strategising abilities undaunted by failure, and the hard work of true friendship.”  Morris Gleitzman 18th September 2018

It is amazing to consider that reading books can impact so many parts of a reader’s life. Books that can bring new worlds to experience, characters to relate to and problems that need solving. Readers says Morris Gleitzman … “don’t like characters who give up easily, and the more stories they read, the less likely they’ll give up easily themselves.”

I remember reading the book ‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Bronte when I was growing up and thinking what an amazing character Jane was. She was an independent, self-motivated character who suffered quite a lot but never gave up the love for life. No matter what happened, Jane always found a way to get back up on her own two feet and keep on moving forward. Jane was a resilient person whose strength has been etched in my memory as a most inspirational character whose story is timeless.

Maybe you remember the books of your growing up impacting your life and leaving strong memories and lessons for life. I know that every time I pick up a book I begin a journey – a journey that is unpredictable, leaving thoughts, feelings and knowledge that remain always.

As Morris said in his speech, “Through the stories they read, … the ones with bookshelves at home, and grandparents with e-book accounts at the local library, and parents happy for bedtime dreams to unfold before sleep, our young people are equipping themselves for the future.”