Changing literature landscape no big deal for Gleitzman

Morris Gleitzman with Year 11 Atwell College students (L-R) Mia North, Nadia Woollett, Kimberely Chanter and Hunter Cronin. Photo: Ben Smith.
Morris Gleitzman with Year 11 Atwell College students (L-R) Mia North, Nadia Woollett, Kimberely Chanter and Hunter Cronin. Photo: Ben Smith.

AS the man behind some of Australia’s most beloved young adult books, Morris Gleitzman is more than qualified to run the rule over the changing literature landscape.

The author of Two Weeks With the Queen, Misery Guts, Once and Boy Overboard visited Atwell College last month to discuss his life’s work and impart wisdom on his readers.

While the way kids consume books has changed with the advent of e-books and kindles, Gleitzman said the way in which readers related to texts had not changed.

“Once a young person has a book in their hands, even if it’s an e-book, not a lot has changed at all, because of that essential uniqueness that the written word has and the way it connects with our imagination,” he said.

“When we read a story, without realising it, our imagination gets involved and it’s a lot more active and creative process.

“It connects us more powerfully with the characters and the story and it’s often the books we remember from our early years more than the movies.

“Young people may not come to books as directly as they did in previous generations, but once they find them, they don’t want to let them go, they become part of the mix of how they want to spend their time.”

Morris Gleitzman with Atwell College principal Peter Rudrum.

The Australian Children’s Laureate for 2018-19 said books had a profound impact on the way the minds of children and young adults developed.

“As the characters get smarter and more creative, we’re taking all this in and when we read 100s of books during childhood, we have that experience 100s of times and it changes us.

“There are studies that show when we come out of the other end as adults, if we’ve read 100s of good stories, we are developed in ways we wouldn’t be.”

As one of Australia’s most famous children’s authors, Gleitzman said there is little he loves more than meeting his readers.

“I’ve got friends who write for adults, and apart from the odd literary festival, 99 per cent of people who read their books, they never get to meet,” he said.

“Those of us who write for kids are lucky, because through schools, we have the opportunity to meet a lot of our readers and get a sense of what is happening to them as they read the books.”

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