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Tardis, anyone?

I need a TARDIS. Just a small one. Even a time-share TARDIS would do. A way to get to three conferences and four schools in a day, and still have time to sleep. And at least one quiet family meal with Bryan. Managed that for the first time in two months tonight, though, admittedly, half an hour later I am tapping this.

It has been wonderful. Chaotic. Humbling, standing in the same room with so many extraordinary people, who give so much to so many with no thought of return. Overwhelming covers it most accurately, with so much happening that there hasn’t been time to absorb it all, much less process what has happened.

Sitting here in the valley it is as if it all happened to someone else, up there on a stage in the wind on Australia Day. I gave up counting after eighty-four interviews. And now …

Work. Getting things done. Most days are still filled with answering emails and there are seven boxes of conventional mail to answer – forgive me if you don’t get an answer till 2018, but it will come.

But this year, as Australian Children’s Laureate and 2015 Senior Australian of the Year, there is an even greater chance to get things done. To convince teachers, parents and the kids themselves that everyone can read and there is no ‘one size fits all’ that will work for everyone in exactly the same way. But if we fail even one kid we have failed, leaving kids shut out from modern social life and the extraordinary written heritage of humanity.

We all need stories. We have a right to stories. Stories tell us who we are, how we got here – and what we can do next. They give us the power to dream and the tools to achieve those dreams.

What do I plan for this year? Simply more. More regional tours to more tens of thousands of kids, convincing them that they do have choices, that, no, I can’t promise that it will be easy but that there are people who want to help and can help, and if they keep looking they’ll find them. Convincing teachers that no kid – even that brat who keeps sneering in the back corner – is hopeless. That there is no such thing as reading problems, but teaching challenges. That we can do it – because in twenty-five years of meeting ‘hopeless’ kids, I have never met one who actually is.

It’s a mindset change, mostly. Teaching programs like MultiLit exist, work and can be validated. There are programs now to enable teachers to upgrade their skills to specialise in literacy.

And, as well as that, there will be conferences and more articles (I have been averaging an article and a half a day since November both for Australia and overseas), tweets, blogs lobbying politicians, universities and government departments. And, if at all possible, doing some writing too – and by writing I mean the worlds I create, not the one we are all trying to make better.

But fiction helps with that too. Stories matter.


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