National Year of Reading 2012

Featured Ambassadors

Feature Week 4: Adelaide Festival; Writers' Week
Phil Cummings

In week four, we feature Peter Goldsworthy and Phil Cummings, National Year of Reading ambassadors who both hail from South Australia and will feature in the 2012 Adelaide Festival.

City of Playford Mayor Glenn Docherty
City of Playford Mayor Glenn Docherty
Phil and Daisy Reading
Phil and Daisy Reading
Phil and Misty
Phil and Misty
Playford Library NYR Launch
Playford Library NYR Launch

About Phil

Phil spent his early years on a farm on the coast of South Australia, the youngest of eight children. His initial interest in writing began with poetry and songs. During his teacher training, Phil came across a wide range of children's books and decided to try his hand at writing one. After several attempts, his first book 'Goodness gracious' was published. Phil is now the author of more than 40 well known children's books. In addition to being a National Year of Reading ambassador, he is an ambassador for the South Australian Premier's Reading Challenge.

Phil's thoughts on reading and the National Year of Reading

It's great to be able to embrace reading and writing and to share our stories. We can learn, discover, create opportunities for ourselves and peer into the windows of other worlds. We can be entertained, we can laugh, cry and feel something that we know others feel. Through our stories, readings and communications we can build bridges of understanding that help us cross shadowy rivers swirling with currents of suspicion.

For those of us that love reading, the National Year of Reading gives us a chance to share our passion and help others discover what we already know. The National Year of Reading gives us a wonderful focus on the joys and benefits of having reading as a part of our lives.

I was happy to head down to my local library here and be part of their launch for this wonderful year. As part of the National Year of Reading I will be launching my latest picture book there. I am also promoting reading as an Ambassador for the Premier's Reading Challenge here in SA. There will be many events happening in your local library so keep a keen eye on the NYR website. Happy reading!

In the following video taken during the National Year of Reading launch at the Playford library, Phil talks about the importance of reading and the National Year of Reading.

Phil's reading habits

  • When do you read? I read a lot at night in bed. If I love the book I will go to bed early just to get back into it.
  • What's the book you've read most often? 'To kill a mockingbird' by Harper Lee. I first read it in High School when it was handed to me by my English teacher. I wasn't actually studying it at the time but my English teacher handed it to me saying she thought I should read it - she was right!
  • Which book is by your bedside right now? I love music and I do read a lot of biographies of the musicians I have listened to since I was a teenager - The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Van Morrison, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd etc. I recently bought a book entitled 'The rock and roll hall of fame - the first 25 years'. It is a chronicle of Rock & Roll as told by its legends. I am halfway through and loving it.
  • What was the first book you received as a gift? My Nanna Lucy gave me the wonderful 'When we were very young' by AA Milne when I was about six or seven. I still have it and when I open the pages I am transported back to the cluttered lounge room in my nanna's house where would snuggle up and read as the wild winter winds whistled and howled outside.
  • Do you use your local public library? I am at my local library at least once a week and, more often than not, twice a week.
  • Are you a constant reader or are there times when you don't read at all? There are times when I don't read. If I am working on something and need to have full focus then I tend not to read anything that I think might steal that focus and distract me from what I am writing. If I pick up a good book and can't put it down then I don't get any work done!
  • Do you remember learning to read? What I remember most as a child is my dad telling me stories. We lived on a farm and after a long day in the fields on the old blue tractor dad would come in, sit me on his knee and tell me stories. He sometimes read the 'Stock Journal' to me. I had no idea what he was telling me but I loved that time with him. Reading has been important to me ever since.

Phil's favourite reads

  • My favourite book would have to be 'To kill a mockingbird'. I loved it so much and it had such an impact on me that it set me thinking that there would be nothing better than to write and have impact on young minds and hearts.
  • I also loved 'The Hobbit'. I loved the way it captured my imagination and took me to another world.
  • 'When we were very young' has a firm place as a favourite. It gave me a sense of rhythm and rhyme that I use today when working to create picture books for the very young. I remember as a child marching along the dusty roads in my small town keeping time to the poem 'Buckingham Palace.'

Phil’s latest book

Phil's most recent children's book, 'Winter's blanket' explores the theme of anxiety and finding a pathway through stormy times.



A number of Phil's books are available as e-books. One special story, 'Boom bah!' written by Phil and illustrated by Nina Rycroft is available as a free e-read from the website of National Year of Reading partner The Little Big Book Club. A special version is available with Phil reading 'Boom bah!' and the story is also available in Indonesian and Cantonese.


Upcoming events

You might like to go along and see Phil at the following events:

  • Para Hills Library, 16th March
  • Children's Book Council of Australia National Conference, 17th - 19th May

Watch out for Phil at your school in the coming months. He will be visiting over twenty schools to speak to children about his love of reading and writing.

Adelaide Festival Writers' Week

Since its inception in 1960, the Adelaide Festival has featured thousands of Australian and international artists in the fields of theatre, music, dance, visual arts, writing and film. The 2012 festival runs from the 2nd - 18th March, with Saturday 3rd - Thursday 8th designated as the Adelaide Writers' Week.

Phil will take part in two storytelling sessions in the story tent on Sunday March 4th. For more details about Phil's participation Click here

  • To find out more about the Adelaide Festival and Writers' Week, take a look at the festival website.


  • Other National Year of Reading ambassadors and friends are also appearing during Writers' Week, including:

    Peter Goldsworthy; Festival Website

    Boori Monty Pryor; Festival Website

    Alice Phung; Festival Website

  • Want to know more?

    • For more information about Phil and his work, take a look at his website.

      Phil's website

    • Take a look at Peter Goldsworthy, our other featured ambassador during the fourth week of the National Year of Reading.

      Click here

    • If you want to find out about all the National Year of Reading ambassadors, go to our ambassadors page.

      Click here

    • Other featured ambassadors can be found on the ambassador feature week listing.

      Click here

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