As an author, I often do signings, readings, talks and workshops. Many of these are in schools. School visits are my favourite sort of author appearance. I love talking to kids. I love their enthusiasm for books — something that is unfortunately often lost in the transition to adulthood. And I love being able to convey my own enthusiasm for books and writing. Occasionally, I manage to inspire some interest in a kid who has previously showed little enthusiasm for reading and/or writing. Those are truly golden moments.
Most of the time, I’m paid to do school visits and there is usually a promotional aspect. After all, I’m trying to make a living out of all this. 🙂 But sometimes I’ll do a different sort of visit. A visit that has nothing to do with promoting myself or my books; a visit for which I am not paid. I did one such visit yesterday…
I went to Hastings Westpark Primary School as a role model for the Books in Homes programme. Books in Homes Australia is a charitable organisation that promotes the love of reading and aims to improve literacy skills. They do this by distributing brand new books, for FREE, to kids in disadvantaged circumstances. Many of these kids come from families struggling to make ends meet and who do not necessarily have the money to buy books. For many of these kids, this programme offers them their only chance to own some new books.
One of the great things about this programme is that it gives the kids a choice of books. There is no easier way to kill off the love of reading than to give a kid a book he/she is not interested in. But give him/her a choice of books — the ability to get a book he/she will love — then you potentially pave the way for a life-long love of reading.
Some of the books kids could choose from this time around included: The Headless Highwayman (Grim and Grimmer #1) by Ian Irvine (who wrote a couple of guest posts here a few of months ago), Lowitja by Lowitja O’Donoghue, The Time Keeper by Emily Rodda and My Australian Story: Cyclone Tracy by Alan Tucker.
So what was my role in all of this? Simple, really — I attended a special book giving assembly at the school and gave a short speech about the importance of books in my life. Then I helped to give out the books. It was a fabulous experience… seeing the delighted expressions on the faces of these kids as I handed them their books was awesome. It was just a small amount of time out of my schedule, but the rewards were big. A huge thank you to Books in Homes Australia for letting me be one of their role models, and to Hastings Westpark Primary School for making me feel so welcome.
To find out more about Books in Homes Australia and the work they do, check out their website.
And tune in next time for a post with pixels.
Catch ya later, George
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