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The 2015 Reading Matters Conference was a celebration of young adult literature for teenagers and the young at heart. Author and poet Abe Nouk started the conference with a poem titled The Inheritors of Language. “The voices of your ancestors are in your vocal cords,” he said, kicking off a conference that focused on the significance of diversity in literature. American author Laurie Halse Anderson’s presentation was fierce, courageous and honest. “I write resilience literature,” she said, and spoke about her tough teenage years, keeping her stories real as a writer and stories being vessels that passed on “wisdom from one generation to the next.” Sally Gardner learned to read at fourteen and talked about her struggles with dyslexia with honesty and heart. “We are stuck with a desperate way of writing off children,” she said and spoke of the importance of giving children and teenagers their childhoods back.

– thanks to Demet Divaroren for this report. Demet is the co-editor of CBCA nominated Coming of Age: Growing up Muslim in Australia.

Another highlight of the conference was the ‘Hashtag Teen’ panel, which looked at engaging teenagers in literature via digital spaces and online campaigns. Fanfiction and digital storytelling initiatives Archive of Our Own (AO3), the SLV’s Shift Alt Story online course and Penguin Teen Australia’s PTAChat Twitter hashtag were all bought up as examples of great forums for teenagers to engage in writing online. Amie Kaufman also spoke about the popularity of ‘booktubing’, which has a wide reach with younger readers, citing YouTube blogger Little Book Owl who has 120,000 subscribers.

– information taken from


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