Parliamentary Friends launch Australian Reading Hour 2023


Australian Reading Hour returned on Thursday 9 March 2023, with over 250+ events across the nation, and a special launch event at Parliament House in Canberra with the Parliamentary Friends of Australian Books and Writers.

Authors Rick Morton and Anne Brinsden joined Graham Perrett MP, Anne Webster MP and a host of MPs, Parliamentary Friends and staffers to discuss the importance they place on growing up as readers – and the need for Australian politicians to actively support a reading culture. Senator Helen Polley also spoke in the chamber about the Australia Reads campaign, and the importance of reading and literacy. 

Some of the Parliamentarians alongside speakers, from left: Dr Daniel Mulino; Rebecca Sharkie; Dr Anne Webster; Senator Helen Polley; Rick Morton; Anne Brinsden; Graham Perrett; Andrew Leigh;

Over 17,000 students watched the live national digital event The Magic of Storytelling at Sydney Opera House, with the event now available to watch on demand for junior booklovers. 

ABC TV News Breakfast asked Aussies to recommend their favourite reads and interviewed Sally Rippin about the importance of reading, whilst Studio 10 chatted with Peter Helliar about how to get involved. Dr Norman Swan pointed to the health benefits of reading, while Professor Robyn Ewing discussed the importance of long-term reading of fiction on social and emotional wellbeing.

ARH 23 Picnic hosted by Hachette
Photo courtesy Hachette of the Australian Reading Hour picnic they hosted in Sydney
Some of the authors & illustrators from the  The Magic of Storytelling event get involved in the Dymocks window takeover.

From author talks and publisher picnics to reading parties and readers in the bookshop windows at Dymocks George Street, many thousands of Australians took part in Australian Reading Hour events. Mataranka Library in the Northern Territory had so many people they had to move venues! Tasmania celebrated with a whole week of activities, including Story Snippets posters encouraging commuters on buses to sample the first chapters of fantastic Australian novels.

‘It was wonderful to see so many tens of thousands of Australians from different walks of life stop to talk about books and share stories together for Australian Reading Hour,’ said Anna Burkey from Australia Reads. ‘From Parliament House to community libraries, public parks and local buses, Australians gave themselves permission to take time out to read—and loved it! And studies show that it really is good for us—from out mental wellbeing to our empathy, connection to others and sense of self, curling up with a good book has so many benefits for ourselves, our families and our friends.’