Virtual events to bring Books Alive for Aotearoa’s young readers

From the most remote backblocks to our biggest cities, Kiwi kids around the country will be able to get up close with Aotearoa’s best children’s authors and illustrators thanks to the wonders of the internet and the hard work of some very dedicated librarians.

If there’s a silver lining to the COVID-19 cloud, it’s that this year’s programme of Books Alive events, which usually see finalists for the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults traverse the country talking to large groups of school children, has gone virtual.

The Books Alive events and Virtual Storytimes will be freely available to all from Monday 3 August, thanks to the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA) in conjunction with the New Zealand Book Awards Trust and generous funding from Copyright Licensing New Zealand (CLNZ).

“We are thrilled that librarians around New Zealand have created amazing virtual events that will connect children of all ages with this year’s best New Zealand books – and even get to meet the authors and illustrators!” says LIANZA Chief Executive, Ana Pickering.

“The New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults was begun by the library association in 1945. Since then, libraries have been celebrating the talents of the finalists through library storytimes, displays, recommendations and special events every year.”

From an author-illustrator challenge and high tea with fancy hats to a special affairs show, a mash-up with local celebrities and finalist interviews and Q&As, librarians have created fun resources for children, students, family and whānau to view online, even when the ‘award season’ is over. An added bonus is that for the first time, children in the most rural areas of New Zealand get to experience the excitement of the Awards.

Engaging with authors can be life-changing for children. In her book Mophead, a finalist for the Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction, former New Zealand Poet Laureate Selina Tusitala Marsh talks about the impact of a visit to her school by poet Sam Hunt and the career trajectory it set her on.

The Books Alive events culminate in the presentation of the 2020 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, which will also be a virtual event this year. It takes place at 6pm on Wednesday 12 August and will be streamed live on the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults YouTube and Facebook pages.

The full programme of Books Alive events is available here and the Virtual Storytimes schedule can be viewed here.

All content will be loaded on the LIANZA YouTube page and freely available.