Friday, September 19, 2008

What's better than chocolate?

Reading, of course!

Those of us who tonight attended the launch of an enticing new collection of writings by The Writers' Dozen - "Better Than Chocolate" - were the converted, lovers of words and fully acquainted with the wonderful power of books to sweep us up and take us to worlds crafted by others' imaginations.

We know that reading can be as delicious and seductive a pleasure as chocolates!

But millions of children around the world know neither of these treats.

The 13 writers who make up The Writers' Dozen meet fortnightly at the NSW Writers' Centre in Sydney's Rozelle, and have published this anthology of poetry and short stories (both 'light' and 'dark') to help Room to Read with its mission to provide underprivileged children with an opportunity to gain the lifelong gift of education.

Since it was established by former Microsoft executive John Wood in 1999, throughout the developing world Room to Read has:

- built over 400 schools
- established over 5000 libraries
- published more than 200 local-language children's books
- donated over 2 million English language children's books
- established over 150 computer and language labs
- funded over 4000 long-term girls' scholarships

If the readings given by three of the writers at the launch are any indication, there is something here for all tastes. Humour, suspense, poetry - even the supernatural.

In their own words, a "magical mix of memoir and imagination" and "a collection of deftly crafted tales that mirror the facts and fantasies of the circle of life".

"Better Than Chocolate" is no-calorie, no-GI, and non-fattening, and the good feeling that comes with purchasing one - or several! - will stay with you because you'll not only be indulging your passion, but helping a child discover it too.

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  1. How cruel, Di! 10pm on a Sunday night and you wave chocolate in front of us!!! And I know there's none in the house!
    I will go and buy the book, tho' ...and when it arrives I'll probably have to get some chocolate to eat while reading! lol

  2. Yes Lindi it is a good combination...unfortunately..eating and reading..I can bypass chocolate but get tempted by cheese and biscuits.

    What grieves me is how few children ever see their parents actually reading and enjoying a book. I would rather an house less perfect and some time spent giving a reading model than magazines and newspapers being the only reading matter that children see their parents read.
    I was a teacher librarian in the '70's which was a wonderful time in Victorian education when money was spent on building libraries, cataloging them and training teacher libarians and having advisors who worked with the untrained ones till they got their training. I had a wonderful 10 years in my career and as an Advisor visited many schools and libraries and worked with many wonderful people and gave lessons to some fabulous kids (would often give a lesson and give the teacher time to catch up on covering or something while they also absorbed some of what I did with the kids)
    And now....well it is pretty much all gone. There are still libraries there but why train people!!


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