The National Year of Reading

by - January 20th, 2012

2012 is the National Year of Reading in Australia. It is a collaborative initiative, involving public libraries, government, community groups, media and commercial partners. There are heaps of activities planned for the coming year. And it all gets officially launched on 14 February.

But what’s it all about? Well here it is, straight from the horse’s mouth. The National Year of Reading 2012 (NYR12) website has this to say:

The National Year of Reading 2012 is about children learning to read and keen readers finding new sources of inspiration. It’s about supporting reading initiatives while respecting the oral tradition of storytelling. It’s about helping people discover and rediscover the magic of books. And most of all, it’s about Australians becoming a nation of readers.

Author and actor, William McInnes, is the NYR12 Patron. But there are over 50 other NYR12 Ambassadors who will be out and about, promoting reading throughout the year. These include authors, illustrators, politicians and sportspeople — such as AFL footballer Phil Davis; former PM and current MP, Kevin Rudd; and radio presenters Scotty and Nige.

To kick off the NYR12 here at Literary Clutter, I approached National Ambassador Hazel Edwards with a few questions.

How did you become involved with the National Year of Reading?

I’m a readaholic. In any format — E or page or audio. The Love2Read people invited me to be a National Ambassador since I write in different formats, like performance literacy scripts, picture books, etc and for different audiences including adults, YA (adolescents) and young readers. So families can share the gift of imagination, and read embassassing moments from their history, I run workshops in Writing Non Boring Family Histories or Writing for Your Grandkids. I’ve also been involved in Skype web chats with rural adolescents in connection with the controversial YA novel f2m: the boy within (co-written with Ryan Kennedy) about transitioning gender, so I’m keen on innovative ways of encouraging those not yet readaholics.

Why is this initiative important to you?

Reading makes you more tolerant of others who are different. Reading gives you thinking skills and ways of solving problems. Skills give you confidence. I have two grandsons for whom I write a story each year. The last one was “Henry-Garnet the Serial-Sock-Puller” for the 1 year old. (He’s moved up to pulling his shoes off now.)

I link writing and reading. I’ve also featured a non-reader Art, as the hero in my junior e-mysteries Project Spy Kids. Art is an ace problem-solver. Illustrator Jane Connory has developed some merchandise for ‘cool’ screen reading and a Design Your Own Mystery downloadable activity. So game instructions can be part of reading too.

Family co-writing and reading can be fun. I co-wrote Cycling Solo: Ireland to Istanbul with my son Trevelyan, who was the imagination behind There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake when he was four. Trev did ALL the cycling! This year he is walking the Appalachian Mountains trail in USA for five months and we’ll be co-writing about that.

What will you be doing as a National Year of Reading Ambassador?

Talks. Sharing fun ways of reading. Mentoring reader-writers. Online interviews. Introducing new reading fashions like e-books.

Demonstrating ways you might read with children. For example, the Yamba Imparja TV clip on my website of me reading Look There’s a Hippopotamus in the Playground Eating Cake. was to encourage indigenous pre-school literacy habits.

Reading needs a purpose. So far I have offered two performance e-scripts from my website, free for any literacy groups who wish to perform them. “An L of a Difference” has a zany, small businesswoman who uses clever ways of learning to read.

My thanks to Hazel for taking the time to answer these questions. To find out more about Hazel and her involvement with NYR, check out her website.

Like Hazel, I’m also excited about NYR12. I couldn’t imagine my life without reading, and I’m eager to share my enthusiasm. So I was delighted when my old school, Mentone Grammar, asked me to become their Patron Reading Ambassador for NYR12. I’m looking forward to the year ahead. :-)

Tune in next time, when two more NYR Ambassadors drop by for some questions.

Catch ya later,  George

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2 Responses to “The National Year of Reading”

  1. Tania McCartney Says:

    Thank you for this, George. Hazel is a perfect choice for an NYR12 ambassador – and it was inspiring to read her thoughts behind literacy.

  2. George Ivanoff Says:

    Yes, Hazel is inspiring in so many ways. A great choice as an Ambassador. I also think you’re a pretty damn good choice as Ambassador as well, Tania. But we’ll hear all about that in the next post. :-)