The Hon Peter Garrett MP
Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth
PO Box 6022 Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600
Dear Mr Garrett,
I was really encouraged to read of the launch of the Let’s Read Early Literacy Campaign earlier this week. “Reading and writing are the building blocks to a great education.” As a passionate literacy advocate, a Pyjama Angel, “Let’s Read: anywhere, anytime” is exciting and on behalf of the Child Writes graduates, we would like to be part of it!
For the last eight years, I have been working with primary school aged children, taking them through the entire process of writing and illustrating their own picture book, all the way to a published book presented at book launch. Over 260 titles are now part of the Child Writes library and a fundamental part of the process is that every child donates copies of their books to places where children are in crisis. We know, anecdotally, that the children, for example, at the Children’s Ward at the Toowoomba Base Hospital, or Eidsvold Hospital or the Royal Brisbane Children’s Hospital have found great strength and solace reading books written and illustrated by their peers.
Norah Murphy, who was the Acting Principle at Eidsvold State School in 2011, noted an ‘increase in the interest in literacy’ when we ran the program at her school – and thirty-five children completed it, from Years 3 to 8, and wonderful books; about varied topics like handling bullying, stories about the floods, to fitting in when you are different – were the result.
The ultimate goal for Child Writes is to make these books available to more locations where children are in crisis – oncology wards, ‘change-over’ venues used by divorced parents... anywhere. I have been working towards developing a relationship with Stuck on You as a potential print partner for traditional hardcopy books. We are exploring the eBook construct thinking of tables as an alternate means to distribute the entire library. Child Writes has the wonderful variety of titles, suiting all ages and stages of any young reader. We are even exploring the readability of a broader international audience, with Jetstar currently offering a limited number of titles alternating monthly as part of their in-flight entertainment.
We know our authors are empowered by creating the written word, we know the readers are equally empowered by realising the adults around them are acknowledging that a child’s view of the work is important!
It was the “Towards a Better Future” paper commissioned by NAPCAN in 2006 which showed a stronger community which listens to its children subsequently protects its children, which has provided the impetus or rather, the encouragement to persevere with this program because it would genuinely make a difference. The authors’ donation of books links them directly with the broader community; the book launches with representatives from local government reminds them the community values their words; the librarians reiterate the importance of reading and writing; the parents and carers grasp how monumental an achievement it actually is writing and illustrating a picture book – and the children, the authors – well, they believe they can do anything!
I have enclosed a trilogy written and illustrated by Abbey English, when she was 9, then 11 and 12... by way of example of special these books are. Her grandmother made her the soft toy version of Maltie!
Previews of all the other titles are found in the store at www.childwrites.com.au We would love to see them in the hands of young readers, hoping they too will be encouraged, empowered and realise an increase in their self efficacy when they see that anything is possible!
I am sincerely hoping you too see the immense value in this library; that you find a ‘use’ for it possibly in the Let’s Read Campaign, and that we can truly make a difference with these beautiful books.
I look forward to your thoughts.
With sincere regards
Founder / Creative Director
Child Writes / Boogie Books
PS – There is a return self addressed post bag included... We don’t want to clutter your office if you have no further need for these and Abbey would like to donate the set to her the local kindergarten!