Welcome to the blog of the Tasmanian branch of the Children's Book Council of Australia!

Friday 26 February 2021

We All Have a Story to Tell

Felicity Sly explores the underlying drive to ‘tell a story’ that compels and shapes the tales that emerge and get released to the world. Grab some inspiration to start the next story.

I’ve just finished reading Humans by Brandon Stanton, the third book published from the interviews which started the Humans of New York webpage/Facebook/Instagram/Twitter pages. I often wondered how Brandon managed to get strangers to share their story. In Humans his latest book, he shares the secret. He asks: “What is your greatest struggle right now?” and then he listens.

Ducks Away (2016)
by Fox & Horacek.
Published by Scholastic

Similarly, the core of many stories is struggle. The struggle may be enormous, or it could be small and solvable. In Ducks Away (Mem Fox/Judy Horacek) one by one the ducklings topple off the bridge and mother duck worries about her ducklings being in separate spaces, some on the bridge, some in the water. Finally, all are in the water, and mother duck joins them.

A Home for Little Penguin (2020)
by Coates & Neyland
Published by Forty South

In A Home for Little Penguin (Hannah Coates/Claire Neyland), Little Penguin’s home is destroyed by an excavator and a new and appropriate home has to be (and is) found.

In a time of COVID many people have found themselves with time. For some this has meant more time on social media, for others it’s time spent binge watching shows, and for another group it has given time to think about the story they have to tell. Colleague Shanli Perkins wrote, co-illustrated and self published Bobbie Rotten during COVID (CBCA blog Oct 23 2020).

We all have a story to tell, but how do we tell that story? In August 2020 La Trobe University published Creative Writing During COVID-19: Tips from Award Winning Authors on their website. Their 6 tips are: 

  • Carve out time
  • Start an ideas book
  • Suspend judgement
  • Notice when your best ideas emerge
  • Read, read, read
  • Be kind to yourself when you’re feeling stuck

We all have a story to tell, a struggle to explore; but how do we make that a story that others want to read? Mem Fox shares many tips for navigating the writing to publishing path on the For Writers: Hints section of her website. One of the more valuable tips is not to rush the end product. Ducks Away was a ten-year project, and the first attempt bears no relation to the finished product.

…and my story? I’m still on step 5 of the La Trobe University tips: Read, read, read!

Felicity Sly is a Teacher Librarian at Don College and a CBCA Tasmania committee member.


  1. Flis, this post is so encouraging and inspirational, we all have a story to tell and need motivation assisted by useful strategies from published authors to begin. Who knows who will write the next "best seller" it simply starts with an idea, a message, a story and the confidence to begin the process.