This past week, Australia celebrated Children’s Book Week—the oldest running children’s festival in the country. At Room to Read, we love celebrating reading, so we asked Australian author Markus Zusak to mark the occasion by sharing what he loves most about books.
Markus is the author of the internationally best-selling novel The Book Thief, a father, and a Room to Read ambassador.
I’m writing this after reading There’s a Wocket in My Pocket for possibly the four hundred and fifty-eighth time to put my daughter to bed. And I still love it.
To tell you the truth, Dr. Seuss is almost a god at our house. The books are lined up like the silliest soldiers ever. A giant picture of Sam-I-Am stands proudly in our children’s bedroom. When I walk past, I feel like he’s winking at me. He’s saying, ‘Oi, Markus. Quick. Come here…Do you like green eggs and ham?’ And I feel like shouting back: ‘I DO NOT LIKE THEM, SAM-I-AM!’
But I’m lying.
I do like them, or at least I know I’ll come around.
Most days, I work as early as I can, and it’s the best job in the world because I’m not me anymore. I get to travel thousands of miles, within myself. Most importantly, I’m allowed to attempt the magic act of believing something that isn’t true.
That’s what made me want to be a writer.
It was reading stories and novels and knowing that none of it was real, but believing it anyway. That, to me, is the best magic act in the world; every time I sit down and read, I see a rabbit pulled out of a hat. I get to be the rabbit, or at least talk to it, or hear what it has to say. Every time I sit down to write, I try to find a new way to make those same things happen for someone else.
In the end, I realise how lucky I am. I have so many stories at my fingertips because there are so many books on the shelves here.
Tomorrow night I hope we’ll choose The Sleep Book instead of There’s a Wocket in My Pocket. It might be because I’m slightly scared of the vug under the rug…but it would also be timely.
In The Sleep Book, Dr. Seuss goes about counting how many kids and creatures are going to sleep at that exact moment. For me, it will also be a realisation that more and more kids in the world are being read aloud to, with the help of Room to Read.