Mark Rubbo on Melbourne Literary Projects

I wanted to write about two cool things that are happening in Melbourne.

100-story-logoThe first is the 100 Story Building, a shop front in Footscray’s Nicholson Street mall. Sandwiched between a vacant store and the Commonwealth Bank, it opened for business a few weeks ago. It’s actually a one-story building but Lachlan Carter, Jess Tran and Jenna Williams, the drivers of the project, claim that there are 99 stories below street level: in one corner, notices on the wall above a trap door invite people to join the 47th floor basketball team, or from the crew on the 5th floor, ask who stole their peanut butter, or who wants to join the 20th floor book group. The rest of the walls are covered with framed pages of manuscripts from writers such as Andy Griffiths, Alice Pung and Sally Rippin.

The 100 Story Building is all about supporting young writers from culturally and linguistically diverse and marginalised communities to share their creative voices through storytelling projects. Currently, there are almost 7000 students from 56 schools across the western suburbs of Melbourne who fall in the lowest quartile of socio-educational advantage. A key focus of the 100 Story Building is to create ongoing storytelling projects for these students, and to support the existing efforts of schools, families and communities in bolstering literacy, confidence and belonging among these students. Find out more at

The Readings Foundation is a proud supporter of this wonderful initiative – and the 2014 Grant Applications are now open. For more information and to download the application form and guidelines visit

story-book-logoThe other cool thing is the Story Box Library. The brainchild of Nicole Brownlee, a primary teacher and children’s bookseller, the Story Box Library is an online reading room for children. It’s a creative approach to providing a quality educational program that keeps the art of storytelling alive while embracing the technology that has become so ubiquitous in children’s lives today. The site is due to launch soon and showcases a selection of Australia’s best children’s literature presented by a diverse range of storytellers. The site is designed to be used by teachers and parents to stimulate interest in reading and literacy. It’s also going to be a lot of fun, too.

My little granddaughter has a pretty close relationship with her mum’s iPad; she often watches animated children’s stories and I must admit I’m bit ambivalent about that. With the Story Box Library concept, she’ll be looking at real people reading from real books, watching and sharing their reactions and seeing the stories unfold on the page. As the site develops and the catalogue builds it should become a wonderful way to discover new books. My granddaughter lives overseas so it will be a great way for her to remain connected to part of her heritage. I just love the idea.

You can have a look at what Nicole and her colleagues are aiming for at – spread the word parents, uncles, aunts and grandparents!

Mark Rubbo is the Managing Director of Readings