ASLA 2020 Literacy Research Summit Presenters - Literary Experts

'Capturing research to enable literacy leaders to transform the culture of schools'

Meet our Literary Experts

Print Version

Our three Literary Experts will excite you about
the latest and greatest books for our students.

Paul Macdonald

Owner of The Children's Bookshop (Speakers' Agency) - Sydney


Paul has a Master of Education, working almost 20 years as a teacher of Upper Primary and Secondary. He has won numerous awards in teaching such as a Quality Teacher Award and The Premiers English Scholarship. His interests include the development of literacy with a particular interest in reading for gifted children, Boys’ Literacy and books for adolescents. Paul won the inaugural Maurice Saxby Award in 2012 for his contributions to raising the profile of teen fiction. Paul Macdonald also was the winner of the 2016 Lady Cutler award for services to children's literature and literacy in Australia. Paul is a consultant working with numerous schools.


The Power of Reading

This session will focus broadly on the ‘Power of Reading’, on the importance of offering quality texts for kids to read for pleasure and to assist young readers develop literacy skills. We will explore the current book landscape focusing on examples of picture books, junior fiction, middle grade and teen fiction and review key non-fiction titles that are both powerful and fun.

Sean Williams

Author, Senior Lecturer, Flinders University - SA


Sean Williams is an award-winning, #1 New York Times-bestselling author of forty-nine novels and over one hundred and twenty short stories in numerous genres for adults, young adults and children. As well as his original fiction, he has contributed to shared universes such as Star Wars and Doctor Who, and collaborated most recently with Garth Nix. His 2019 novel Impossible Music was shortlisted for the Ethel Turner Prize for Young People’s Literature (NSW Premier’s Literary Awards) and listed as a Notable Book by the Children’s Book Council of Australia.


Reading, a.k.a. the Subtle art of Learning by Osmosis

Sean read voraciously as a child. Now, one of Australia’s most prolific writers, he looks back to reflect on possible connections between early literacy and artistic endeavours in adulthood. What influence might ready access to literature have on a young person’s development and/or aspirations? How can we use this knowledge to we get kids to read? What counts as “literature” in the first place? In this age of social media, graphic novels and computer games, that last question may seem more vexed than ever, but having survived Doctor Who novels, Dungeons & Dragons and the Atari 2600, Sean is evidence that words can educate, inspire, and elevate, no matter their source.

Jennifer Jackson - WA

Director/Follower of Paper Bird Children's Bookshop and Literature Centre - WA


Paper Bird in Walyalup in Fremantle is a powerhouse of stories celebrated through a mind-boggling array of programs, including the Woylie Project for Noongar Aboriginal Storytellers. Paper Bird has established itself in less than 5 years as a leading children’s literature hub. Jennifer is also a practicing Child Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist having worked in child mental health services for 20 years prior to opening the bookshop - it’s a quirky mix – the bookshop has a clinic and art gallery upstairs, and writers’ studios behind – a bit like a surround sound system for emotional wellbeing.

Presentation Title

Word on the Street

Now, more than ever, it is time to lean on your local bookshops and local authors to engage young people in literature that will get under their skin, rattle their bones, and spark creative explosions. You are the conduit - the curator - the influencer, whichever term resonates best, for great contemporary literature getting into the hands, minds and hearts of your students. Everything you need is right here. Let me show you what and who is amazing so you will be stepping out of age worn texts and into literature whose ink is barely dried and whose creators are champing at the bit bring their books alive for their readers through Q&A’s, live readings and illustrations.

Full list of ASLA Literacy Research Summit Presenters

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