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Explore new worlds with reading

Best-selling author-illustrator Matt Stanton pinpoints the moment he knew he wanted to write funny stories for children.

Students watch Matt Stanton read his book.

Matt Stanton answers student questions at the Sydney Opera House.

Stanton, the creative genius behind the ‘Funny Kid’ series, told students at a special Australian Reading Hour event he was 11 when he “tried to write the funniest story I possibly could”.

His teacher and principal liked the story so much they asked the “short, shy kid” to stand up in front of his school and read to students. “I was like, 'No.' ... I was so nervous,” he said.

But when students started laughing at the story, he realised “this is sort of cool”.

One hundred students from Darlinghurst Public School and Fort Street Public School formed the live audience for the Sydney Opera House event, joined around Australia by 8,000 students in 110 schools watching the live stream.

Students fielded questions to Stanton, ranging from his favourite children’s authors (Roald Dahl and Morris Gleitzman), common theme (fun), to how long it took to write each novel (about six months).

Stanton’s latest Funny Kid book, ‘Next Level’ was written and published to celebrate Australian Reading Hour, a collaboration between Australian libraries, publishers, bookstores and authors, supported by the NSW Department of Education.

“Reading is exploring; reading is hunting; reading is finding something you want to spend time thinking about,” Stanton said.

On Thursday, 19 September, all Australians of all ages are asked to read a book for one hour. Stanton’s talk is among around 200 events occurring across the country for Australian Reading Hour.

Families are encouraged to join the national program at home and read a bedtime story. Studies show that reading a bedtime story six days a week can give kids almost a year’s head start when they start school. Reading has also been shown to develop empathy, promote critical thinking and help children find a sense of self.

Visit the Australian Reading Hour website to get involved.

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