Phil is an ambassador for the Dad’s Read campaign for the Libraries of South Australia. For more information click here.
“Be their reading legend. Reading just
10 minutes each day makes a difference”
Research confirms reading to children just 10 minutes each day strengthens literacy, models positive behaviour, and builds children’s self esteem about reading (especially for boys). Dads Read encourages fathers to invest in their child’s future by choosing to read to them each day.
Watch Phil Cummings read Boom Bah here. This is a great example how to share great stories with your children and shows that it can be more than just reading a book!
Raising Literacy Australia
Phil is also an ambassador for Raising Literacy Australia formerly know as the Little Big Book Club. Their vision is to enrich Australian lives and build communities through literacy with a mission to build sustainable, high quality and accessible programs which educate and encourage individuals, families and the broader community. The outcome is to support effective change in practices enabling Australians to achieve lifelong learning, improved life chances and the ability to participate in society.
Follow these links to find out more:
Premier’s Reading Challenge
Phil has been an ambassador for the Premier’s Reading Challenge in South Australia since its inception. Click here to find out more.
Phil Cummings was born in the small seaside town of Port Broughton in South Australia. He is the youngest of eight children with four brothers and three sisters. Life as a kid for Phil was a fabulous adventure. He was on a farm for the first eight or nine years of his life. When his family left the farm they moved to the mid north of South Australia to a railway town called Peterborough. His older brothers worked on the steam trains. The windows in his house would rattle constantly as the trains rumbled through the rail yards. When Phil left school he worked in a local garage, in the abattoirs and played sport constantly until he left to attend teachers’ college.
Phil’s interest in writing began with poetry and writing songs. With the beginning of teacher training, Phil was exposed to a great deal of children’s literature, particularly picture books. Phil decided to sit down and write one! He mistakenly believed it would not be difficult at all! His work was rejected time and time again but, having the writing bug, he kept on going. He soon learnt that writing for children was a lot harder than he ever imagined. Six or seven years after his first attempts, Phil had a book published.
Goodness Gracious!- illustrated by Craig Smith – was published by Omnibus Books in 1989.
Here are some questions and answers from Phil himself!
What are five favourite ways to spend a Saturday?
For me Saturdays are spent in many different ways and quite often it depends on the season. In the summer I love to watch cricket at Adelaide oval or watch my daughter play tennis. I also love to watch the cricket on television. The other thing I love to do, if there is no sport on offer, is to spend time in the garden. In the winter my daughter plays hockey so, like the summer months, I’m usually busy racing around from one sporting fixture to the next. There is nothing better though, on the coldest of dull winter’s days, to sit in front of the fire and read a good book!
What are your nicknames?
At school my nickname was Cummo and am still called that by my friends from my hometown. But my more commonly used nickname is Seagull. This name has survived from the days when I played cricket and would swoop on the food scraps at the tea break because I would often not have a proper lunch before leaving home and would be starving by mid afternoon. I remember coming into bowl once and whole team suddenly started flapping their arms furiously before erupting into a chorus of squawking. It took me quite a while to pull myself together so that I could keep playing. The umpire and batsmen were not impressed!
Who’s your favourite Australian sporting personality?
Oh, hard question. But I would have to say Sir Donald Bradman. As far as the present day goes I admire Adam Gilchrist.
What song always gets you dancing?
If you ever saw me dance you would hope that they didn’t play any song that made get up and embarrass myself. I love music and listening to it is one of my favourite pastimes. I love the music from the late sixties and seventies. It’s hard for me to pick a favourite artist. I love so many different kinds of music. But just to give you an idea of my musical taste. I love Ry Cooder, Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker, Led Zeppelin, J.J Cale, Sting, Dire Straits, Pink Floyd, B.B. King, Jackson Browne, Neil Young, The Rolling Stones and so on.
We have a few fish in an outdoor pond, a border collie dog called Misty and until recently two guinea pigs called Biff and Boof.( they are now both in the big guinea pig hutch in the sky courtesy of a brown snake) Misty is the one pet in our house that does play a big part in my life. A beautiful and unusual sandy coloured dog with a white chest, she has , like most family pets, many endearing qualities. She sleeps beneath my desk when I write which is great company for me, particularly in the early hours of the morning when the rest of the family is fast asleep. She loves to chase a ball and is mad keen on any ball game the family might enjoy. She doesn’t interfere with the game but simply runs around barking and squealing usually with a large rope or softball in her mouth. She chases birds, rabbits and running children – not that she ever catches anything or even wants to, she just seems to enjoy the run. She loves riding in the car with the only problem being she demands, and usually gets, the front seat!
What were your favourite and loathed subjects at school?
My favourite subject was history. I wasn’t very good at maths!
How did you spend your summer holidays as a kid?
We lived in a very small town and had a farm until I was about eight or nine years old. I have a few treasured memories of those days – Hunting for tadpoles in the dam, riding the tractor with my dad, being left in a tall field of wheat by my older brothers, being in an army with the Kelly boys from across the road, playing in the sandhills near the farm, climbing what seemed like a mountain ( a hill a short walk from our home) and looking out over the countryside, finding snake skins and sheep skulls and hiding them in a hollow tree, building cubby houses with rope bridges in two enormous pepper trees in our back paddock. A great life!
My novel Danny Allen was here is based on those memories.
What are some of your favourite books?
The Bridge to Terabithia I have read this one many times. The James Herriot books. I love animals and the characters in these stories were wonderful. The Hobbit and To Kill a Mockingbird both left a lasting impression on me.
What do you buy when going to the movies?
I used to always buy a large tub of popcorn and a chocolate top ice cream but recently I haven’t enjoyed them as much as I used to so I now take a large bag of mixed lollies and chocolates with me …. I do share them though!
What are some of your favourite meals?
Steak, pasta, fresh salad, home made bread and for dessert – chocolate cake and ice cream.
If you could travel to any place in the world where would you go?
What words would you use to describe yourself?
I would hope that people would find me easy going, down to earth with a sense of humour.
What is your favourite room in the house and why?
My study, because I am surrounded by a comfortable mess of paper, books, photos, music CDs and there’s a telephone buried somewhere near the computer.
What’s the meal you wished you hadn’t eaten?
I had fish once and a bone got stuck in my throat, it was a frightening experience.
What skill do you wish you had?
I’d love to be able to play guitar like Eric Clapton and sing like Joe Cocker.
Who or what inspires you?
A Determination to succeed and self belief on any level. Nelson Mandella inspires me. My mother is also a great inspiration for me.