It’s a sunny morning, you’ve got a fresh, hot cup of coffee steaming cheerily at your elbow, a plate of ‘smashed avo’ on toast, or poached eggs benedict, and a new book.
You’re engulfed in a cloud of Saturday morning hustle and bustle as you open to the first page. The din around you quiets, silence ensues and you take your first steps into another world.
I’m of the Harry Potter generation. I remember first being introduced to Harry Potter by my older cousin, Ryan. Even now I can vividly picture him, thirteen or fourteen years old, gangly, and telling me that it was the best book he’d ever read. The first four books were published at this point, and he was onto number four, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The following day, I crashed through Platform 9 & ¾ and into a world of witches, wizards, magical boarding schools and the hope that maybe, just maybe, I too was something out of the ordinary.
I’ve always loved books. There’s home videos of me at 3 years old, confidently reading from children’s books. By the time I became a fully-fledged Gryffindor, I had shelf upon shelf of books. My mother never said no to buying a book. On my eleventh birthday, I waited anxiously for the arrival of a letter. I’m serious. Even though all rational thought told me that there was no way things like witches and wizards and magic existed, I still held on to hope that I might get a letter from Hogwarts. I did.
Given my retained muggle status, I had to find other ways to fill my life with magic. I found my happy place between the pages of Louisa May Alcott, J.R.R Tolkien, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker and George Orwell. The latter three were compulsory school texts in my senior years, but I loved them all the same. Outside of school, Stephanie Meyer (yes, truly) and Cassandra Clare ignited a love for young adult science-fiction/fantasy, and I steadily headed into The Capitol alongside Katniss with Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games phenomenon. As an adult, writers such as Philippa Gregory, Hilary Mantel, and Conn Iggulden have fed my love for Medieval and Ancient History.
My life decisions were shaped significantly by my books. When I graduated high school, I began a degree in journalism, which I never finished. I eventually decided to study secondary education, focusing on English and History. Throughout my university studies I didn’t read as much for enjoyment. Nearing the end of my first year of teaching full time, I can’t say I’ve had time for anything that doesn’t involve chasing late assessment tasks, writing lesson plans and marking. Today for example, I’ve sifted through five classes of report marking and am steadily counting down the days until the mid-year break. Through my work however, my love of reading has been reignited, thanks to my Year 8 English classes.
At the commencement of each class, once I’ve rounded up the students from the yard after they’ve already ignored the first two bells and after I’ve stood there for ten minutes waiting for silence before greeting the students; and after approximately seven of them have asked to retrieve the equipment they were supposed to bring in with them to class, we finally sit down for a solid fifteen minutes of silent reading. The students then share with the class a summary of what they have just read. At the beginning, they moaned and groaned about reading except for the few kindred spirits, who, like myself love books. After a while, the rest of them started to enjoy it. They were sharing stories with one another, comparing their opinions on characters, plot and setting.
Due to some scheduling conflicts the following weekend I ended up sitting in Adelaide airport, sick with the flu and facing seven hours before my flight back to Darwin. I hadn’t been reading much and nothing was really taking my fancy in the airport bookstore. That is, until I came upon the stunning cover of The Red Queen, Victoria Aveyard’s 2015 debut novel. I devoured this book, and the two sequels, Glass Sword, and King’s Cage, moving between Hungry Jacks, the coffee shops and finally, the wine bar before boarding the plane to Darwin. I shared the plot with my students, and loaned the books to them to read. It was this experience of humans sharing stories, and appreciating the art form of storytelling that lead me to the decision to start BOUND. Hopefully, through my words and opinions on storytelling, education, and books, you will be lead into the kingdoms, poverty stricken districts, magical schools, and battlefields (both in between the pages of books and in the classroom!) that I have had the pleasure of visiting.