Children’s Book Week 2017

The Australian Children’s Book Week theme for 2017 is ‘Escape to Everywhere’. It sparks lots of ideas for me. It  invites wonder about the world and the wide variety of humans who live here. The theme also captures why I read – to escape – to live inside someone else’s mind for a while and to see and feel what they do. That’s why they say reading makes you more compassionate and empathetic (see articles in Time, The Guardian and Better Reading on this). And we need that now more than ever.

Children’s Book Week runs from 18-25 August and here are 10 ideas to help make 2017 the best Book Week ever.

Escape to Everywhere through reading.

1) Plan Your Escape Start the conversation about reading escapes. Where do you escape from the world to read? What are the best books about Escaping to Everywhere. What is the greatest Escape novel ever written? How many different ways can you Escape when you’re reading – into the imagination, to another country or  into a fantasy land? How else? What can you build or create on the theme of Escape to celebrate this year’s Book Week? Ask friends, colleagues, students and start the debate now.

2) Escape Into a Book Try reading some of my Top 5 ‘Escape to Everywhere’ Books:

The Boy at the Top of the Mountain, a companion novel to John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. (This was one of my favourite reads of last year. It made me feel as though I was a kid living up there in the Berghof, the home of Adolf Hitler.)

Somewhere Else, an inspiring picture book for dreamers, wanderers and wonderers by Gus Gordon (my partner in crime on the My Life books). This book makes you appreciate simple things about everyday life, but it also makes you want to strike out and see the world.

Somewhere Else: A big-hearted book about overcoming fear and Escaping to Everywhere.

The Fall (see how I cleverly squeezed my new book into the middle of the list without you knowing. The Fall involves a literal escape from a very dangerous man in an apartment building, but it’s also an escape into the world of Sam Garner, a kid in trouble at school and with his mum, who’s trying to connect with his father for the first time in his life.)

Icebreaker by Lian Tanner. (This tightly plotted, beautifully characterised adventure story totally immerses you in the rusted, icy, mechanical world of Petrel, who lives aboard an icebreaker in the Arctic. )

Where the Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak (the ultimate ‘escape’ book, for kids and adults)

3) Change the World  Join my 2017 Room to Read World Change Challenge (the theme this year is ‘Get Active For Education’) and help me and a host of other Australian authors change the world by educating children in the developing world. We have, so far, in partnership with Australian school students, raised over $100,000 to buy books, build libraries and educate girls in ten of the world’s poorest countries.

Illustration by Gus Gordon.

4) Book Parade Start planning your Book Week Parade outfit. You can go to the parade dressed as the main character in the My Life books by downloading and printing a free Tom Weekly mask, available soon on this here site! Or maybe you want to dress as a Library Ninja, inspired by my story ‘Fungus the Bogeyman’ in My Life & Other Exploding Chickens (and Gus Gordon’s most excellent illustration above). ‘Fungus’ is about the time I had a book overdue from the public library for five years as a child and was arrested by a gang of Ninja Librarians when I attempted to return it. (Totally true.)

Download and print a free Tom Weekly mask like the one below, also worn by the pesky kid who attacked me in the Weaponised Muffins book trailer.

I love this Tom Weekly mask from last year’s Book Week. You can download and print a mask just like this for yourself! Thanks for the photo @Tan_79 on Insta!

5) Book Trailers Make a video book trailer for your favourite book and screen it in the school library. Check out my post on How to Make a Book Trailer and send me a link to the trailer you make. Below is the trailer for My Life & Other Weaponised Muffins and the winning student-made trailer in the recent My Life book trailer competition for inspiration:

6) The CBCA Keep an eye on the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book Week activity ideas page as it is updated during the year and also on the Teacher-Librarians’ Children’s Book Week wiki. The brilliant Book Chook blog always has fantastic Book Week resources, too.

7) Author Talks You could book an author (or harass your teacher-librarian to book an author) to speak at your school. Here’s a list of agencies. Many authors are already booked for Book Week but if your celebration falls outside the official Book Week dates, you might get lucky. (I’m booked for Book Week ’17 but next year or other times of year can be booked through Speakers Ink (QLD) or Booked Out (other states).

Story Inspiration. How can books and movies inspire and influence your own story, novel or movie script?

8) Get Creative Watch my 5-part video series inspired by my new thriller novel for middle-graders The Fall (May 2017). Above is a sneak peek of one of the videos on Finding Story Inspiration. I will share the others soon. They include tips on Outlining a Story, Creating Characters and Rewriting. A perfect way to get inspired for the day, add to your writer’s toolkit and open up discussion about key areas of creating an amazing story. If you have an idea for a future video on creative writing, drop me an email or leave a comment on this post.

Or you could try:
– Writing activities in the My Life& Other Stuff I Made Up teachers’ kit
– Checking out the visual / aural creative ideas in the Two Wolves teaching materials.
– Getting outside to write. Watch my Story Safari video on how I wrote my novel Two Wolves for inspiration.
– Visiting the CREATE page.
– Using my Story Scrapbook transmedia brainstorming tool to gather videos, images and music as you dream up a new story of your own.


10) Make Your Escape Social Talk about Book Week and ‘Escape to Everywhere’ on social media. Connect with me on TWITTER , INSTAGRAMFACEBOOK and YOUTUBE throughout the year. Let’s talk stories, create things, share the best books we’ve ever read and the most amazing places we’ve escaped to through reading.


1 Comment

  1. June 30, 2017 / 12:36 pm

    Great post Tristan… look forward to trying some of these ideas at our secondary college! I keep imagining bars of black crepe paper over bookshelves and students helping books ESCAPE as well.

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