A series of 10 six minute audio segments produced for the Community Radio Network with financial assistance from the Community Broadcasting Foundation. Eight of the episodes feature a writer for kids talking about their first encounters with story, and with books; about learning to read, the pleasure of books and how to share that with kids today. The final two episodes turn to some of those kids of today for their thoughts on books and reading. Thanks to everyone who took part, and to the Sydney Writers Festival, Waverley Library and Eastside Radio. See episode details, book lists and link to audio on Soundcloud below.

Produced by Sally Zwartz. Music by J Lamotta. Photo by Oliver Strewe.



EPISODE 1: Andy Griffiths, one of Australia’s best known authors for kids, author of the crazily successful Treehouse collection, and many more. LISTEN HERE.

Andy read from:
Struwwelpeter (Merry Tales and Funny Pictures) - Heinrich Hoffman

Books he spoke about:
Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
The Magic Power of Your Mind – Walter Germain
One Fish Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish – Dr Seuss
Readers Digest anthologies


EPISODE 2: American author Kate di Camillo, whose books include Because of Winn-Dixie and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. Kate has won multiple awards and sold millions of books and vividly recalls the first book she ever read on her own. LISTEN HERE.

Kate read from:
Charlotte’s Web – E B White

Books she spoke about:
Harriet the Spy – Louise Fitzhugh
Little Bear – Else Holmelund Minarik and Maurice Sendak
Nutshell Library – Maurice Sendak
Paddington Bear – Michael Bond


EPISODE 3: Artist and author Bronwyn Bancroft, who describes books as ‘items of gloriousness’. Her own books include Remembering Lionsville, An Australian ABC of Animals, Malu Kangaroo and many more.

Bronwyn read from:
The Hobbit – J R Tolkien

Books she spoke about:
Aboriginal Myths and Legends - Roland Robinson
The Dreamtime: Australian Aboriginal Myths - Ainsley Roberts


EPISODE 4: Hilary Bell, a playwright, lyricist and librettist, as well as the author of illustrated books including the bestseller Alphabetical Sydney. Hilary was a graduate of the Juilliard School, the Sydney Theatre Company’s Patrick White Fellow in 2013, and is a founding member of playwrights’ company 7-ON. Her description of being read to by her father should sell the experience of reading aloud with children to absolutely everyone.

Hilary read from:
Cole’s Funny Picture Book – E W Cole

Books she spoke about:
Alice in Wonderland – Leiws Carroll
Bleak House – Charles Dickens
Fairy tales (Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson, etc)
Father Brown – G K Chesterton
Greek Myths
In the Night Kitchen – Maurice Sendak
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
The Magic Pudding – Norman Lindsay
My Naughty Little Sister – Dorothy Edwards
Seven Little Australians – Ethel Turner
Sherlock Holmes – Arthur Conan Doyle
Snugglepot and Cuddlepie – May Gibbs
Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson
Where the Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

EPISODE 5: Nick Earls, a Brisbane-based author, has written more than 25 books for adults and children, most recently an award-winning collection of novellas called The Wisdom Tree. Nick also has a seven year old son and some recent firsthand experience in introducing kids to the pleasures of reading. LISTEN HERE.

Nick read from:
The Weirdstone of Brisingamen – Alan Garner

Books he spoke about:
Asterix books – Goscinny and Uderzo
Biggles books – W E Johns
Green Eggs and Ham – Dr Seuss
Richard Scarry books
Tintin books - Herge
Zack the Zombie series


EPISODE 6: Tina Matthews is originally from New Zealand and is a puppetmaker and designer as well as a creator of picture books, among them Out of the Egg, Waiting for Later and A Great Cake. Her black and white mobile for babies has found its way to more than 35,000 homes around the world. LISTEN HERE.

Tina read:
The Carrot Seed – Ruth Krauss and Crockett Johnson

Books she spoke about:
Babar books – Jean de Brunhoff
Madeleine books – Ludwig Bemelmans
Millions of Cats - Wanda Gag
Tim in Danger – Edward Ardizzone
Tintin books – Herge


EPISODE 7: Michael Mohammed Ahmad, author of The Tribe, works at the Writing and Society Research Centre at Western Sydney University and is the director of Sweatshop, a Western Sydney-based literary collective. He’s also the parent of a 20 month old who’s growing up with an experience of books and reading that’s very different to his dad’s. LISTEN HERE.

Michael read from:
Skin Again – Bell Hooks

Books he spoke about:
The Arabian Nights
Unbearable – Paul Jennings


EPISODE 8: Mem Fox is author of Australia’s best selling picture books Possum Magic and Where is the Green Sheep? and many others, Mem’s also a great ambassador for children’s books and reading in Australia and internationally and her enthusiasm for the joys of sharing books with kids is as strong and as infectious as its ever been. LISTEN HERE.

Mem read from
Snugglepot and Cuddlepie – May Gibbs

Books she spoke about:
Red the Kangaroo – Leslie Rees
Shy the Platypus - Leslie Rees


EPISODE 9: Time to hear from some kids! Annabelle, Benjamin, Dani, Eden, Jamie, Julia, Jessica, Tyler and Zachary were among the crowd at the Harry Potter 20th anniversary celebrations at Waverley Library in Sydney's eastern suburbs in June 2017. They took some time out of the festivities to talk about their experiences of learning to read. LISTEN HERE.

Books they spoke about:
The Bunyip of Berkeley Creek - Jenny Wagner, ill. Ron Brooks
Harry Potter books - J K Rowling
The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
The Hobbit - J R R Tolkein
The Land of Stories - Chris Colfer
One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish - Dr Seuss
The Little Yellow Digger - Betty Gilderdale
Weirdo books - Anh Do

EPISODE 10:  Still at  Waverley Library's Harry Potter 20th anniversary celebrations. In this episode some thoughtful advice for new readers, along with with recommendations and reflections on reading. Thanks to AlexandraAnnabelle, Benjamin, Caitie, Eden, Jamie, Jay, Julia, Jessica and Tyler  for taking part. LISTEN HERE.

Books they spoke about:

Dr Seuss books
Friday Barnes, Girl Detective - R.A.Spratt
Harry Potter books - J K Rowling
Lionheart: A Journey of the Human Spirit- Jesse Martin
Nancy Drew books - Carolyn Keene
Nexo Knights books

Thanks also to year 1 Bellevue Hill Primary School students Anastasia and Ziv for their reading of Oh the places you'll go, by Dr Seuss.