Keeping Books Alive

Keeping Books Alive

The world of books! How do we keep them alive?

As an author and primary teacher I’m passionate about this concept. Recently I attended a seminar that promoted the love of books. I want to share this experience with my readers. Enjoy the journey I’m about to take you on.

People leaned against the red cushioned seats as they waited for the presentation to begin as others with name badges climbed the steps and hurried to their chairs. An image flicked across the back wall as a hand hit the top of the microphone. A man stood in front of a stand on stage, tapping on his keyboard. The lights dimmed and a lady spoke into the microphone, introducing the day.

‘My name is Meredith. Welcome to Keeping Books Alive. People are here from Maribyrnong, Sunshine, Frankston, Ballarat, West Gippsland and one visitor from interstate.’

WOW! I thought, so many people from all over Victoria who must be passionate about books and keeping them alive. Then Meredith explained there were different parts to the day. Various authors were speaking and one of the main focuses was:

‘Where do writers get their ideas from?’

A lady with an emerald green scarf spoke into the microphone as an image of a child reading a book was featured on the screen. Instantly I was drawn into her world. Reading, storytelling and teaching children to read are all part of my passion. We were already speaking the same language.

Wendy Orr, international author shared her experience of keeping books alive.

‘Let children see your excitement of stories.’ She also mentioned how reading allows people to enter another life and be somewhere else. The reason she writes is because she enjoys entering others lives and being in other worlds. Another point mentioned was ‘everything in life is a story.’

Being a born storyteller I agreed with what she was saying. Participants scribbled in notebooks as Wendy continued speaking, others balanced laptops on their knees as they tapped the keys taking notes.

Another image of a father and daughter holding a picture book with a dinosaur on the cover was addressed in the talk. This demonstrated the early stages of children identifying with books, the shared reading experience. Again I could relate with this idea after teaching in the early years for seven years. I have been privileged to teach children to read. I enjoyed reading the big books to my classes, ‘the shared reading experience’ but also fostering in them, learning the letter names and sounds which is another part of learning to read. I will not go into all that now. It would take me another whole blog to write about this, back to the seminar.


Her final words spoken in a soft, clear voice projected into the audience as she touched her heart and said with passion.

‘Make readers connect. And … Books keep US alive.’    

POETRY ROCKS! This is another way to keep books alive. Catherine spoke about this idea, engaging the audience with her show and tell, books and tips for introducing and teaching poetry. Her first show and tell was a variety of postcards. Another speaker’s world I could relate to.

My motto is ‘spread sunshine and inspiration’ and this is what Catherine was conveying in her talk, postcards to trigger inspiration for writing. Other tips given were a word salad bowl (random words) and inspiration for poetry through songs. Catherine was another passionate speaker sharing her love of words and continuing to share ways to keep books alive.

I joined in the applause with other teachers, authors and librarians. The clapping stopped as a book was about to be launched. Justin D’Ath’s ‘Three.’ Archie … launched the book and then Justin read an excerpt from the story.

After Meredith rang the cowbell to signify the end of the coffee break, Archie spoke.

‘Read to be seen,’ he said. Excellent, I thought please continue.

The author in his black jacket continued to share his experiences. He mentioned that stories come from the world around us and he uses his life experiences in his storytelling. Character and voice are powerful tools in storytelling and this was what the audience was about to experience. He became the voice of not only himself but his dying father as well. The story was sad and I instantly connected to his characters. Then he opened his book and began reading about the same characters and the same voices. Being a born storyteller, once again I connected with the presenter. I understood where he was coming from and knew what it was like to be part of his world.


The second part of Archie presentation engaged the audience in a different way. He spoke about how people say ‘I have nothing to write about. I don’t know how or where to start.’

His answer to this was ‘These are all excuses. There are no excuses for not writing.’

Yes, Yes, Yes… I wanted to jump out of my seat and clap him. I am a strong believer that there is no such thing as writer’s block. Inspiration is everywhere and if you are a born storyteller this will never be the case. I totally agreed with what Archie was saying and yes these are all excuses. I have met people who want to make writing their career yet they never know what to write about and find it hard to get ideas. Or in other cases even worse, they start writing a story and never finish it. Mmm… I want to be a writer but I don’t know what to write or how to finish a story… Seems strange to me, I have ideas springing at me all the time. Too many stories and never enough time to write them all, but that is another blog post, back to Archie.

Both being teachers I loved the activities he got the audience to participate in using your name to write a short story. Sounds interesting? Well I am not going to give it away, attend one of Archie’s presentations to find out more.

His final message was ‘the power of Yes I can.’ Another big tick for Archie from me, this again relates to my message of ‘spread sunshine and inspiration.’ Thank you Archie for such an inspiring talk.

There were three other sections to the day. A panel discussion with Corinne, Claire and Wendy talking about using history as story starters, props were brought in to demonstrate this.

Louise, another inspirational speaker, spoke mainly about her Harriet Clare book series whose main character can be linked with anxiety in young children. It’s a popular series and she spoke about how it has helped others.


And finally, Bernard wrapped up the day. His way of keeping books alive is through his comic books using drawing as language.

Sharing the love of books is so important and this is why we need more seminars like these. I discovered new ideas and even found new books to read. I also met other authors, librarians and teachers, all people who are passionate about the world of books.

A BIG thank you to Paul and Meredith for organizing the Keeping Books Alive Seminar and to all the speakers for their inspiration.

Help keep books alive.

Best wishes,

Juliet x

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