National Year of Reading Launch at the National Library of Australia

Today I had the privilege of attending the national launch of the National Year of Reading 2012, held at the National Library of Australia, Canberra.

The National Library was abuzz with superstars from the literary world – but the NLA wasn’t the only literary hot spot. All around the country, at libraries and halls and schools and centres, a mass celebration took place – and all for an amazing cause.

Our right royal bonanza was held in NLA’s theatre. First we heard from Anne-Marie Schwirtlic, Director-General of the NLA, then glorious book-loving host Jennifer Byrne, First Tuesday Book Club patron, introduced us to the likes of the hilarious William McInnes (author, actor and NYR12 Patron), ministers Simon Crean and Peter Garrett (OMG, Midnight Oil concert flashbacks) and – drum roll, please – PM Julia Gillard herself.

After Julia’s inspiring speech, we heard from William McInnes and next it was the fabulous Boori Monty Pryor – children’s author, NYR12 ambassador and Children’s Laureate – who brought in a classroom of school kids. Monty knocked their socks off with a resounding tale about didgeridoo spit – and had everyone in serious stitches.

The event was also peppered with some wonderful short films and snippets, including a piece from co-Children’s Laureate Alison Lester. We also heard about the NYR12’s aims, upcoming events and initiatives, and the glorious news that Disney have paired with NYR12’s Reading Hour (25 August).

We also heard from Education Minister Peter Garrett, who asked the kids to make the NYR12’s official signing – LOVE 2 READ – with their hands.

Afterwards, there was time to meet up with new and old friends, nibble some delicious sandwiches and have a cup of tea. It was fabulous to meet so many amazing people, to finally meet the amazing Monty and to have a cuddle with William McInnes. But most of all, it was a thrill to see the passion and support that is driving this phenomenal national initiative.

This is a very exciting year ahead – make sure you check out the NYR12 website for more on how you can get involved!

Boori Monty Prior, Chris Cheng and me
ACT NYR12 ambassadors, including Jack Heath and Senator Kate Lundy (either side of me at centre) and local NYR12 organisers Rachel Davis and Vanessa Little (centre front)



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Tania McCartney

Tania McCartney is an author of children's books and adult non-fiction. Recent books include Riley and the Grumpy Wombat: A journey around Melbourne, and Australian Story: An Illustrated Timeline. She's also an editor, publisher and founder of Kids Book Review.