Making room for Room to Read

SCBWI Roving Reporter, Kel Butler warms up her note pad with this guest post on why SCBWI and so many of its members are active supporters of Room to Read.

SCBWI has long been a supporter of Room to Read. Susanne Gervay was the very first writer ambassador, even before the organisation launched a fundraising operation in Sydney in early 2009. Jennie Orchard led the launch into Australia, drawing on her collateral as a speakers’ agent and publisher to engage the many writers and illustrators she had worked and formed close relationships with over the years; people like Susanne Gervay. Melina Marchetta and Libby Hathorn.

All three took part in the inaugural Students Helping Students event at the State Library. Later other SCBWI luminaries Deb Abela and Sarah Davis added their support. And at this year’s conference we’re delighted that ambassadors Oliver Phommavanh and Dianne Wolfer will be with us, as well. All of these wonderful ambassadors contribute in a variety of ways, putting the importance of global literacy and education in the spotlight. Our theme this year is ‘Taking Leadership for Literacy’ - and we are so grateful for the opportunity to raise awareness and funds, helping to give the gift of literacy and education to millions of children across Asia and Africa.

So why are so many great Australian writers stepping up to fundraise and advocate for Room to Read? Let’s borrow a few words from Deb Abela, who says: ‘Every child has the right to an education and to the joy of reading. By helping to educate the world’s poorest, we are not only creating better communities, we are helping build a better, brighter world. It is that fundamental.’

Room to Read focuses on literacy because literacy is the foundation for all future learning. Since it was founded in 2000, Room to Read has impacted the lives of over 10 million children by establishing school libraries, publishing original children’s books in more than 25 local languages, constructing child-friendly classrooms and supporting educators with training and resources to teach reading, writing and active listening.

  • More than 18,000 libraries have been established in 10 low-income countries in Asia and Africa
  • More than 1250 children’s books have been published in over 25 languages, including Khmer, Tamil and Swahili
  • More than 18 million children’s books have been distributed
  • More than 38,000 girls have benefited from the girls’ education program

Room to Read attracts support because it is an organisation achieving extraordinary results, and yet at the same time it recognises that there is so much more work to be done. In addition to those already mentioned, our committed writer ambassadors include Jesse Blackadder, James Foley, Kate Forsyth, Jacquie Harvey, Gus Gordon, John Larkin, Frane Lessac, Sophie Masson, Belinda Morrell,  Alice Pung, Sophie Masson and Sally Rippin. Other writers and journalists lend more informal support.

The fundraising campaign which is supported by our ambassadors is the World Change Challenge. This was the brainchild of Tristan Bancks , designed as a way of encouraging schools and libraries to get involved in fundraising and spreading the word for global literacy. This year we want student leaders to take leadership for literacy, understanding the global issue and spearheading initiatives in their school communities. There are still 781 million illiterate people in the world, two-thirds of them girls and women. As UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova, has said: ‘Literacy is much more than an educational priority – it is the ultimate investment in the future.’

Right now Room to Read needs schools, libraries and businesses all over Australia to get behind the World Change Challenge and take Leadership for Literacy to a whole new level. Many schools are currently in fundraising mode already, with some of them incorporating stories of Room to Read’s programs into their curriculum. St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School in Brisbane is a perfect example of this, giving students the opportunity to learn about Room to Read’s work in Nepal in the wake of the 2015 earthquakes.

If you are interested in getting involved you can find more information on the World Change Challenge on Tristan's website Or like, share or message us on Facebook at

So that's it in a nutshell, really, why SCBWI and so many of its members choose to actively support Room to Read and to raise awareness and funds for Room to Read. Because there is no greater gift than literacy. And – as Room to Read believes profoundly: World Change Starts with Educated Children. 


Elohim - hope for children of the slums - 9th Nov at The Hughenden

SCBWI proudly supports literacy across the world.

The amazing Susi Prescott has dedicated her life to helping the children of the dust in Peru. Elohim, a little school has risen from the dust offering hope to the children.

Diane MacDonald's exhibition of  photos on her expedition to Elohim with Susi Prescot as the guest speaker is in the beautiful Fountain Room in The Hughenden Boutqiue Hotel Sydney

It's free entry but you must register:-

Sunday afternoon, 9th November  2014

4pm to 6 pm 

The Hughenden 14 Queen Street  Woollahra NSW 2025

 Facebook for beautiful photos by Diane MacDonald

 For catering purposes, please register for the event. There is a link from the page, among the photos, or you can go directly to register with this link :

The purpose of this event is to raise awareness and raise funds for 'Elohim' with the goal  of $8,000 to go All donations above $2 are tax deductible through the Global Development Group, Project J728N. There is a link to donate by Paypal on the event page, or alternatively you can donate by credit card, direct deposit or cheque using the link below and clicking on 'Make Donation'.

 Please tell all your friends, 'like' the Facebook page, and RSVP by registering for the event, or emailing The Hughenden Hotel

Parking available in Centennial Park, near Oxford Street gates.

Love to see you there - Susanne