Inside a Dog

“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside a dog, it’s too dark to read.” Who would have thought that these words, uttered by the legendary Grouho Marx, would have gone on to inspire a website for young readers?

Inside a Dog was originally launched in May 2006 by the State Library of Victoria’s Centre for Youth Literature. Since then is has hosted many ‘writers in residence’ on its blog, published hundreds of book reviews by teenagers and given birth to the Inky Awards. Its purpose is to encourage reading amongst young people and to promote Australian writers and their work.

Recently, the dog had a facelift. Actually it’s more than just a surface spruce-up and redesign. The new site has a lot of additional functionality, including forums, book clubs and teacher resources. I was lucky enough to go along to the re-launch of the site, hosted by The Age, on Tuesday 8 March.

As well as all the things you would expect at such a launch, speeches from people at the Centre for Youth Literature and The Age, and a tour of the website and its functions, this launch also included a key note speech from writer Bernard Beckett.

I’ve got to admit that I’d never heard of Bernard Beckett prior to this event. But I was seriously impressed by his speech. As well as being a writer, he is also a teacher, and he spoke about engaging students with reading. He talked about the importance of encouraging the enjoyment of reading, and he did so with passion, insight and a great deal of wit. All those attending received a copy of his latest book, August, which I have now placed in my must-read-soon stack.

So why am I telling you about the launch? It’s simply an excuse for me to encourage you all, be you young or young at heart, to visit the Inside a Dog website. If you’re a parent or teacher, browse through the reviews to see what kids are reading and the find out what they really think of books like Twilight and Harry Potter. If you’re a young person, register on the site and share your opinion of the books you are reading. And everyone should check out the Writer in Residence blogs. The current Writer in Residence is Brian Falkner, author of Brainjack and The Tomorrow Code. Past writers have included Daniel Ducrou (Byron Journals) and Nick Earls (True Story Of Butterfish).

It’s certainly not too dark to read inside this dog!

Tune in next time as J.E. Fison drops by on the blog tour for her latest Hazard River books.

Catch ya later,  George

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