“I didn’t realise what a book could do for you – it’s an amazing piece of technology”
UK author Keith Gray
Every second year, Reading Matters comes to Melbourne: a joyful, exciting and buzzy celebration of literature for young people. We also take Reading Matters on the road: in 2013, the Centre for Youth Literature presented events with partners in Geelong and Brisbane.
This June, our Reading Matters program brought together 17 authors and artists from Australia and around the world, with well-loved writers on stage alongside blazing new talents. From the art of writing and the industry of publishing, to debates on portrayals of sex, sexism, death and religion, Reading Matters proved a focal point for debate and discussion about the issues and trends that affect young people.
Over the coming weeks, we’ll be looking in detail at those conversations, throwing the spotlight on some heated topics and introducing you to the authors that tackled the tough themes.
Talking with Teenagers
This year’s Reading Matters youth program saw authors appear at events for over 1,000 teenagers, answering questions about how stories are constructed, where ideas come from and why exactly it was that Garth Nix had chosen to kill off a particular beloved character. An unofficial Morris Gleitzman fan club threatened to raise the roof off the building with their cheers while queues for John Flanagan to sign copies of his Ranger’s Apprentice series wound around the building.
Reading Matters 2013: In Summary
At the heart of Reading Matters sits the two-day Conference, designed for youth literature professionals and enthusiasts and featuring a mix of debates, keynote talks and performances. Visiting from Edinburgh, Melbourne’s sister City of Literature, Carnegie-nominated author Keith Gray provoked gales of laughter and serious contemplation in equal measure with his keynote address Gatekeepers: the Good, the Bad and My Mother.
Brooklyn-based graphic novelist Raina Telgemeier and Melbourne’s own Sarah Howell gave us illuminating glimpses into the processes of writing and illustration, creating comics live on stage, while games writer and former Freeplay director Paul Callaghan talked about how the narrative structures in digital games can tackle difficult subjects like depression.
New York Times bestseller Libba Bray, along with Fiona Wood and Myke Bartlett, stirred the audience and spread the revolution-in-process on the significance of gender in youth literature. A recurrent theme throughout the conference, it is a conversation that has been continued in the media, with articles in The Guardian and Hypable.
Join the Conversation
This winter, we’ll be revisiting the conversations that began at Reading Matters. Add your thoughts below, or join the chat on Twitter – use the tag #YAmatters.
Reading Matters is presented biennially by the Centre for Youth Literature at the State Library of Victoria – roll on 2015!