Library For All specialises in providing books to communities where poverty, history or remoteness prevents access to traditional libraries. To provide original books, we need to gather original stories. One of the ways we do this is by organizing workshops to encourage creative writing. Our first Brisbane workshop was held this month and the response was overwhelmingly positive!
Brisbane writes: Books That Travel
On Saturday 4th August Library For All held the inaugural Brisbane writers’ workshop. We have successfully held workshops in Papua New Guinea over the past year, leading to a steady influx of stories that have been added to our digital library and distributed throughout PNG. Now, with the cross-cultural Books That Travel collection starting to take form, it was time to start tapping in to a broader creative community – starting with those closest to home!
In order to maintain a high quality, diverse library, we want to ensure a wide range of voices are heard through our stories. For our dedicated country programs, like PNG, this means working with local writers so that PNG kids can read relevant stories. For our wider programs, this means giving people from all walks of life the confidence to create a story, which our team can then edit, illustrate, digitise and distribute to keen readers around the world.
For some writers, sharing a story through LFA is a way to add to their existing writing portfolio; for others, it will be the first time they’ve seen their ‘name in print’, which can be exciting and motivating. Many authors simply love the idea of sharing a story with kids who want to read; they know that writing for LFA means their big ideas will be in little hands all over the world.
If you want to learn more about writing a children’s book for Library For All, get in touch here.
Accomplished author Michelle Worthington presented our Brisbane workshop.
Sharing local stories for a global readership
We were lucky enough to have the support of internationally published children’s writer Michelle Worthington, who came on board without hesitation once she’d heard about our passion for supporting global literacy. Michelle has published 13 books for children, and more in other genres, and mentors new writers through her Share Your Story community. As a writer, advocate, educator and parent, we couldn’t have found a better workshop leader than Michelle!
With little advertising or effort we were swamped with applications to participate in our Write A Picture Book For Charity one day event. We capped the numbers at 20 to ensure we could offer sufficient one-on-one instruction, but the ever-growing waiting list confirmed that next time we might need to add additional space or dates.
On the day we had 17 writers in attendance, ranging from published authors to those who had never even considered writing a children’s book before now. All of them were inspired by the LFA mission and very happy to donate a story to our library – although they knew they’d need help with fresh ideas and learning how best to put those ideas to work.
Michelle lead the group through some background on current trends in publishing, stories from her own publishing journey, and tips on what makes a ‘good’ picture book. She offered up the rules of writing for kids – from recommended content through to good writing habits, like how to order your thoughts. Top tip: invest in fun, practical stationery! Luckily, every participant left the workshop with a goodie bag of pens and notepads to ensure they had no excuse for not writing.
Writers learned how to develop a children's story to be published by Library For All.
We also enjoyed a chat over refreshments and a few good laughs.
100% would recommend LFA to a friend!
Being our first Brisbane event, we were very open to feedback on how to make this a more successful activity in future. We ran an anonymous survey post-workshop and made some really interesting discoveries!
Our participants ranged from 25 to 65 years of age, and over 33% had no previous writing experience. Professional backgrounds included teaching, psychology and the arts. Some had travelled quite a distance to attend our session!
We were pleased to see that 100% of attendees felt the quality of the workshop was great – and 100% would recommend it to a friend.
When it came to ‘room for improvement’, we were asked to improve our signage (point taken! We have only been in our office for a few months and we’ve hit the ground running without giving much thought to décor.) Participants also requested additional handouts, sample books and some changes to pre-workshop communications. This is all very valuable feedback and we will be sure to incorporate into our next event.
Hosting an event like this is one of the ways we can bring original stories into our library. But that’s not all! We are also passionate about supporting a culture of literacy: that is, a space where people are excited about reading and writing; a space where people who may never have been part of a writers’ group or who don’t know where to start when it comes to publishing can find their tribe; a space where people who understand the vital importance of literacy for a child’s future can make a tangible contribution to a global challenge. The more we support writers, the more high quality content we can deliver for readers.
We can’t wait to showcase the stories developed in Brisbane this month! And watch this space for future opportunities to join our mission to help the world read.
Come with us on the journey
The Library For All Books That Travel series is now in production, but we need your support to help it grow! If you like the idea of a freely available digital library that encourages more kids to read, you can help us by donating. If you have a great idea about ways that we might work together, we’d also like to hear from you.