Morris Gleitzman spoke about his passion to expand opportunities for young people to ‘experience the magic of reading’ when the State Library of New South Wales hosted the official launch of the Australian Children's Laureate.
Ron Gorman, the chair of the ACLA board, offered an acknowledgement of country and introduced the evening’s speakers.
Dr John Vallance, the recently appointed State Librarian, celebrated Morris’ appointment in a lively speech to the invited audience. Dr Vallance shared two favourite pictures from the Library’s collection: both relate to the emotional and developmental role reading plays in the lives of young people – and has done for centuries.
In celebrating Morris’s appointment, the patron of ACLA Noni Hazlehurst delivered an impassioned plea to push back against the digital tide. Noni pointed to reports on the decline of the time spent by adults reading to young children.
Jenny Brockie, the distinguished journalist who is a 40-year friend of Morris, presented Morris with the magpie statuette as a symbol of the Australian Children’s Laureate.
Jenny recalled first meeting Morris soon after he arrived in Australia from England as a shy 16-year-old. His wit and warmth were evident then and remain so now.
Morris Gleitzman spoke about his passion to expand opportunities for young people to ‘experience the magic of reading’. As Laureate, he will prioritise persuading politician and other leaders to support all children to read for pleasure and discovery.
He declared his intention to champion stories and all they have to offer young people. And he also expressed the need for adults to stay involved with stories for young people.
The official launch capped a huge week following the announcement on Monday 12 February. Writers, illustrators, publishers, educators and passionate supporters of reading and literature attended the launch event. Ursula Dubosarsky, Anna Fienberg and Debra Abela were some of the writers to celebrate with Morris.
Among the VIPs were Julie Burland, the CEO of Penguin Random House Australia; Wenona Byrne, director of Literature at the Australia Council for the Arts; Nicola Evans, the head of the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund and Aleesha Paz from Reading Australia; Michael Campbell, the executive director of WestWords, and Sarah Runcie from the Australian Publishers Association.
Our sincere thanks to the State Library of New South Wales for their generous support and assistance to getting the 2018–2019 Australian Children’s Laureate program underway!