Books

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Jacqueline Harvey, Room to Read Writer-Ambassador



Author Jacqueline Harvey (Alice-Miranda and Clementine Rose) is a writer-ambassador for children's literacy foundation Room to Read. Here, she shares why she cares about global literacy for children, what she is doing to help address it and simple ways that you can get involved, too.

1. Out of all the charities in all the world, why did you decide to become a writer-ambassador for Room to Read?

Reading changes people’s lives. It gives them access to information and knowledge and simple things that we take for granted like being able to understand instructions and directions, reading the labels on medicines and finding your way around becomes much easier if you are literate. Reading is power and Room To Read is all about empowering children. As a teacher, education is key to breaking the cycles of poverty in our world.


2. What do you most love about Room to Read’s work and approach to what they do?

Room to Read works with communities to provide books in their own languages and develop sustainable programs that will benefit children for many years. I love that they build, staff and resource libraries which can become a hub of learning.



3. What makes you care about education and literacy for children in other parts of the world?

I’m passionate about education and literacy for all children. Just because they are out of sight doesn’t mean they are out of mind. I wanted to be a teacher from the time I was nine years old and had every opportunity to do that because I grew up in a family where books and education were valued and accessible. All children have dreams and aspirations, but no so many have no avenues to pursue them – it’s heartbreaking when you hear a child talk about what they would like to be and you know that without education and literacy, it’s not going to happen. Room to Read is giving children opportunities to achieve more than their circumstances would dictate. Dreams are taking flight through programs teaching children to read and giving them the resources they need to pursue an education. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a child learn to read, to find books that they love and use their literacy skills to learn.


4. What kinds of things have you done to show your support for Room to Read over the years?

I’ve spoken about Room to Read at schools and events, I’ve had a ‘Jacqueline Supports’ page inserted into the back of my recently published books talking about Room to Read and promoting their work and have a similar page on my website. I hope to be able to do many more things in the future.

5. What actions can schools and students perform to show their support for this year’s World Change Challenge?

Just get involved! Try some fun and easy challenges – the ones where you get to douse the teachers with water or give them a crazy hairdo are usually very popular, have a giant pyjama party at school where you get to read for half an hour, have a book swap, a dress up day, invite an author ambassador to come and speak, have a talent quest or some sort of physical challenge (like who can read in the most bizarre position – perhaps standing on their head!) or who can read in as many different places as possible – like in the shower, on the train, at the museum etc. Show the World Change Challenge video. Gold coin donations will soon add up.

Find out more about the Room to Read World Change Challenge and join the mission to raise $40,000 for 40,000 books for children in Nepal.
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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Children's Book Council of Australia Awards 2015


I was fortunate enough to be able to attend this year's Children's Book Council of Australia Awards ceremony in Melbourne on Friday and to pick up an Honour Book award for Two Wolves. It was a proud moment and a fantastic day to be part of. 

The award shortlisting earlier in the year has brought a whole new audience to the book and the Honour Book is, as they say, icing on the cake. (NB: picture of the CBCA's 70th birthday cake below. I wish I could give you a piece. It was life-changing.)

Congratulations to all winners and honour books for 2015. And, in fact, congratulations to anyone who sat down and dedicated themselves to writing a book this year. The real reward is in the writing.

Below is the awards presentation in pictures and a few words. Happy Book Week! I hope you find your next great read.

The CBCA Awards were held at Melbourne's beautiful Town Hall. 

Claire Zorn won the Older Readers category for her book, The Protected.
Michael Camilleri gave an inspiring speech about the faith that people have shown in his work and the belief it takes to continue to create art in those times when people aren't necessarily championing what you do.
Freya Blackwood was proud and emotional, winning three awards for her authentic and evocative illustrations.
Tony Wilson's self-penned poem incorporating shortlisted authors' names and books was a huge hit.
Margot Hillel,  the CBCA National Chair, shared her sense of the importance and history of the awards.
Awards stalwart and children's favourite Libby Gleeson picked up awards for The Cleo Stories and
Go to Sleep Jessie.
I looked this way all day. People in cafes and the airport became scared that my jaw was stuck. 
Librarians understand the importance of good cake to human survival more than anyone else on the planet.
The team at Random House Australia put this visual together. Without them, I'm not sure that the book would have found the audience that it has. They supported me from the moment my publisher Zoe Walton finished reading the manuscript. Thanks to Zoe and my very clever editor Kimberley Bennett. Thanks also to Julie Burland, Dot Tonkin, Zoe Bechara, Caroline Ayling and Angela Duke for their ongoing support for me and the book. I feel very fortunate to work with them.
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Friday, August 21, 2015

5 Books That Influenced the Writing of Two Wolves


I believe that everything you read makes you a better writer, even if the book you're reading shows you what not to do. But reading a well-written book is better than any masterclass or workshop or textbook on writing. The well-written book shows you what's possible. A good book dares you to be better, more raw, more honest and brave as a writer.

Here are five books that influenced the writing of my book Two Wolveswith a favourite quote from each book.

'It was the masterful and incommunicable wisdom of eternity laughing at the futility of life and the effort of life. It was the Wild, the savage, frozen-hearted Northland Wild.' 



'I must say this now about that first fire. It was magic. Out of dead tinder and grass and sticks came a live warm light. It cracked and snapped and smoked and filled the woods with brightness. It lighted the trees and made them warm and friendly. It stood tall and bright and held back the night.'



'This carrot is a sign from Mum and Dad. They’ve sent my favourite vegetable to let me know their problems are finally over. To let me know that after three long years and eight long months things are finally improving for Jewish booksellers. To let me know they’re coming to take me home.'
- Morris Gleitzman, Once.



'If you tell the truth you do not need a good memory.'

“We catched fish, and talked, and we took a swim now and then to keep off sleepiness. It was kind of solemn, drifting down the big still river, laying on our backs looking up at the stars, and we didn’t ever feel like talking loud, and it warn’t often that we laughed, only a kind of low chuckle. We had mighty good weather, as a general thing, and nothing ever happened to us at all, that night, nor the next, nor the next.” 




'He did not know how long it took, but later he looked back on this time of crying in the corner of the dark cave and thought of it as when he learned the most important rule of survival, which was that feeling sorry for yourself didn't work. It wasn't just that it was wrong to do, or that it was considered incorrect. It was more than that--it didn't work.'

'Not hope that he would be rescued--that was gone. But hope in his knowledge. Hope in the fact that he could learn and survive and take care of himself. Tough hope, he thought that night. I am full of tough hope.'


This is part four in a series of posts on the writing of Two WolvesHere are the others:


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Sunday, August 9, 2015

Two Wolves Book Soundtrack

 


Writers Stephen King and Anthony Horowitz talk about writing as an act of telepathy, a direct connection between the mind of the writer and reader.

The way the writer feels when they put the words down dictates the tone and mood of the story. Music is notorious for its connection to emotion. So, it follows that the music a writer listens to as they create has an effect on the reader's experience of the story.

Music can also open up the unconscious mind and take the writer down into a more instinctive space.



Above is a selection of music that I listened to as I wrote Two Wolves (On the Run in the US)I listened to these songs over and over again throughout the five year process.

If I woke and wasn't in the mood, the music would drop me down, more easily, into the world of the story. If I hadn't been writing the book for six months and I re-read it and wasn't sure how to go on, the music would re-connect me with the way I felt when I wrote the previous draft.

You might not love all the songs on the soundtrack but I hope you find some gems. And if you're creating your own story, maybe you could build your own soundtrack. Let me know how you get on. Here is a direct link to the soundtrack on Spotify.

Here are two other recent posts about the writing of Two Wolves:

5 Things I Learned While Writing Two Wolves

Two Wolves Vision Board

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Oliver Phommavanh, Room to Read Writer-Ambassador


Author, madman, comedian and all-round-nice-guy Oliver Phommavanh shares why he has become a writer-ambassador for one of the world's most dynamic, world-changing charities, Room to Read.

1. Out of all the charities in all the world, why did you decide to become a writer-ambassador for Room to Read?
Room To Read has a place in my heart because my world has always revolved around books and reading. I think every child in the world has a right to access education and books, and Room to Read reaches out to kids who normally wouldn't have a chance to have their life changed by reading.

2. What do you most love about Room to Read’s work and approach to what they do?
One of my favourite things is that they give opportunities to more than just the kids. They publish many locally-produced books in local languages, so they are bringing up aspiring authors and illustrators. I love how they give back to the local communities and support local economies as well. 


3. What makes you care about education and literacy for children in other parts of the world?
I think education and literacy really does open doors for kids. Children are blessed with creativity, where they can dream big and be anything they want and schools are the places where this magic happens. I can't imagine living without schools and libraries, and yet this is the case for so many children around the world. I never want to take my education for granted, and I'm humbled to know that Room To Read are making a difference for so many children worldwide. 

4. What kinds of things have you done to show your support for Room to Read over the years?
I've turned my book launches into fundraisers for Room To Read. My most recent book, Ethan is about a boy who loves books, so it was a natural fit to raise funds for the World Change Challenge. I've been lucky to be involved in many fundraising events, such as the beers night at the Red Oak in Sydney. I'm also mentioning Room To Read's World Change Challenge during school visits throughout Term 3 and in the lead up to Book Week. 


5. What actions can schools and students perform to show their support?
You can join us for the World Change Challenge. We're hoping to reach $40,000 by October this year, so we can fund 40,000 books to the children of Nepal. Schools and libraries can have fundraisers around books, such as doing a book swap, a second-hand bookstore or even a readathon. I've been to one school where the kids were book-busking; they were reading books out loud in the playground for coins. If you're looking for more information or ideas, you can visit the World Change Challenge homepage.

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