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Books In Homes - Role Model


​Here is the wonderful speech by our Guest Speaker.  Thank you also to Glencore for the donation of these books and Avril from Glencore for being there to once again support our Books in Homes Parade.

Hello everyone. My name’s Rachel Armstrong and my favourite thing in this whole world are books. Books are the simply amazing. They can teach you new things, take you to faraway places, and entertain you for hours on end. I know I sure have spent days curled up on the lounge reading a book. But there’s nothing better than spending one day travelling with a princess and a talking dragon on the hunt for a magic mirror, and then spending another day on a farm riding horses and feeding chickens. There is nowhere you can’t go without a book, and that’s what I love most about them. The possibilities are endless. And I’ve certainly been to many places while lying in bed at night with a torch hoping Mum and Dad won’t catch me awake reading.
I started reading books when I was very young and I wore out my first favourite book I read it that much. So it shouldn’t have been a surprise when I started writing books myself.
I’ve been writing stories now since I was in grade nine and the first adventure I took was on a cruise ship that sailed right around the world. I finished writing that book within seven months and haven’t stopped since, creating stories in many different places with many characters doing all sorts of things. I’ve written about tennis players, and figure skaters. Cowboys and princesses. Ballerinas. Winemakers. Doctors. Lawyers. Today, I write books for adults about people falling in love, because there’s really nothing better than falling in love and being happy, don’t you think?
Some of my books are set in the Outback on cattle stations, where there’s also a crime to be solved and my characters get themselves into danger. I’ve written books set in England about three sisters who never knew each other and books in my imaginary European country about a girl who falls in love with a prince.
But I’d never have been able to write any of this myself if I hadn’t studied books first, and that’s why it’s important for writers to read a lot too. When people ask how do become a writer, the answer is always read, read, read. Reading opens up your imagination to things you’ve never before dreamt about, and I’m sure we’ve all had a book that inspires us to try something new.
So today, I’m going to share some facts with you about books and reading. I’ve brought with me a list of how reading can benefit us all, and then some interesting facts about different books.
So, our true facts about books.
1.    Anyone can read a book! You don’t need to be a genius, you just need to know how to read and manage to get your hands on a book. And that’s easy when they’re the best type of free entertainment. And I say free because you can borrow them from the library. Can you get movies for free? No, you need to buy them or pay for Netflix. Can you get toys for free? Not really. Other than playing games or sports with your friends, books are the best free entertainment you can find! And they can entertain you for hours and hours.
2.  You can time travel to different centuries. Books set in the past and in the future are both very popular.
3.   You can teleport to another completely unearthly world like in Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings.
4.    You’ll broaden your vocabulary by learning lots of new words. And some children’s authors, like Dr Seuss, are great at making up their own words that actually make sense. Did you know Dr Seuss made up the word ‘nerd’?
5.    You’ll become a better writer, even for your school assignments. And I’m sure at some point you’ll be required to write a story in English class.
6.    You can learn about different cultures and what it’s like to live in different countries by reading books set there.
7.   You can share books with your friends! It’s always fun to sit and talk about a book you’ve both read, isn’t it?
8.    You can enjoy books anywhere! Except maybe the shower, which is a great struggle in my life. But books are great to take on long car trips or to read while waiting to be picked up from school or are bored at your brother’s footy practice. I’ve even read books on my phone while waiting in line at Disneyland! True story.
9.    Reading increases your attention span and makes you smarter. And people will think you’re smarter from all the knowledge you pick up while reading. It’s amazing what you’ll learn in a book because you get to experience all the hobbies. The funny thing about books is that there are a lot of them about pretty much everything. Even in fiction, there are many characters with many interests. And you get to experience all these interests through them.
10.    But one of the best things about books is that they allow you to escape. You can go somewhere else when you’re feeling stressed or sad or want to get away from something that’s bothering you. Picking up a book will always make you feel better.
11.    Reading also exercises your memory muscles and makes you a better thinker.
12.    And there’s no risk of injury either! You can take part in grand adventures across Middle Earth, run off to Hogwarts, go around the world in 80 days, or venture to the bottom of the ocean on the hunt for Atlantis. All from the comfort of your own bed while risking nothing more than a paper cut!
So as you see, there are many great reasons to read and continue reading throughout your life. You may have graduated from picture books, although who really has? I still read picture books. Did you know that a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar is sold somewhere in the world every minute? Even I have a recent copy of that book. And Eric Carle came up with the idea for that book by playing with a hole punch.
But today, you might have chosen a short novel and in a few years time you’ll progress to young adult fiction. One day you’ll then be reading adult books and there’s always going to be something new to read.
Which brings us to weird book fact number one!
1.    Did you know there are over 130 billion books in existence! That sure is a lot of books, so you can never say there’s nothing to read.
2.    The most expensive book ever purchased was sold for 30.8 million dollars. That’s US dollars, so more about 50 million Australian dollars. The book was called the Codex Leicester by Leonardo da Vinci, who lived almost 600 years ago, and, of course, it was bought by Bill Gates. Who probably made his 30 million dollars back in about a minute.
3.    The longest sentence ever printed is 823 words! That’s about half the length of this entire speech! It’s sort of a rule not to write a sentence more than 25 words, so I have no idea what Victor Hugo was thinking. This is in a book called Les Miserables, which, yes, is also now a musical.
4.    Once upon a time, author’s names didn’t appear on the cover of books. Imagine that. The first covers printed were considered artworks and were covered in drawings, leather, or even gold. So there wasn’t a place for the author’s name.
5.     And speaking of covers, this might gross you out, but did you know that Harvard University in America has four law books bound in human skin? Yeah, gross hey? But the cover doesn’t look like skin, just leather. Which is cow skin, so it really makes no difference, does it?
6.    Another crazy thing though, and this shows how addictive reading can be, US President Theodore Roosevelt would read one book a day! Even when he was running all of America! Now that’s dedication to reading, I think.
7.     And if you have difficulty typing, remember that JRR Tolkein wrote the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy with two fingers. It must have taken him longer than if he could type properly, but the result was still pretty amazing.
8.     And even though my Christmas is pretty much like this, it’s tradition in Iceland to give books as Christmas presents. People in Iceland are known for their love of books and read more than nearly any other country. So they get books for Christmas and spend all day reading them. Probably because it’s far too cold to go outside and play cricket like we do.
9.     And something else that I found interesting, the name Wendy was made up for the book Peter Pan. There was never a recorded Wendy before that. And speaking of Peter Pan, before the author died, he gave all the rights of that book to a Children’s Hospital in London. Even today, that hospital still collects money from copies of Peter Pan that are sold and that’s how they keep running. Isn’t that lovely?
10.   And my last fact for today, of course, are the three most read books in the world. Some of these shouldn’t be surprising. They are:
a.    The Holy Bible – read by millions worldwide
b.    Quotations from the Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, which I guess is a very popular book for the one billion Chinese people.
c.      And, of course, Harry Potter. Because who doesn’t love a bit of magic in their lives? So they are just some fun facts about books and I hope you found some of them interesting. Books really do make up a large part of peoples lives and I hope they fill yours as they’ve filled mine. Because there’s nothing better than having a good story to lose yourself in.
That’s what I love about books, anyway. They can take you to interesting places, make you smarter, and entertain you for hours. If you have a good book, you can spend days getting lost in the story, so I hope you’re all very excited to receive your new books today. There’s nothing like a new book. One of my favourite things to do is simply stand in the shops and look at them. I never go to Big W without walking through the book section to see the pretty covers, the new authors, read the blurbs, straighten the shelves, and maybe take a few books home with me. Then they sit on my many many bookshelves and take up a lot of space in my house. And I mean a lot of space as I have over 600 novels in my house? So, I guess you can say, there’s nothing more I love than books.
So thank you very much for having me today as your Role Model for Books in Homes Australia and I hope you all continue reading. It really is very good for you. Let’s thank Glencore for sponsoring your school today and bringing you all these wonderful books.
I hope you all enjoy your new books and have a great school holidays escaping to your new worlds of endless possibilities.