Storylines Children’s Literature Charitable Trust of New Zealand Te Whare Waituhi Tamariki o Aotearoa supports and promotes children’s literature in New Zealand
Storylines works nationally to promote the value of books and reading for children and young adults, and to support the development of New Zealand children’s literature.
The Trust works alongside The Friends of Storylines Ngā Pou o te Whare Waituhi Tamariki o Aotearoa (an incorporated society previously called The Storylines Foundation), a membership organisation comprised of dedicated volunteers passionate about reading, writing, publishing and literacy who work, largely in a voluntary capacity, for children’s literature in New Zealand.
Storylines Trust was established in 2005 as a parallel body to provide the Storylines Foundation (as The Friends of Storylines was then known) with a better level of financial overview and security and long-term strategic planning. Inaugural Trust members were writer Joy Cowley, businessmen John Maasland and Tony Butler, educationalist Margaret Bendall and librarian Frances Plumpton and three members of the Storylines Foundation management committee, Dr Libby Limbrick (Chairperson), Rosemary Tisdall and Tessa Duder.
The Trust employs a part-time Executive Officer, responsible for operational overview, fundraising and promotion nationally; and an administrator and events manager.
The Children’s Literature Foundation was established in 2000 following the amalgamation of the Children’s Literature Association (established in 1967) and the Children’s Book Foundation (established in 1989), both organisations that promoted literature to children and their schools, libraries and families. It was renamed Storylines Children’s Literature Foundation in 2005, as the organisation formed the Trust and restructured to allow for growth.
Writers Joy Cowley and Margaret Mahy were inaugural patrons and active supporters of Storylines Children’s Literature Foundation. The current patrons are Joy Cowley and Dame Wendy Pye.
The Friends of Storylines has a management committee of up to 20, with a number co-optable volunteers and total national membership of around 350. Collectively they manage awards; events; promotions and marketing; and publications. Affiliated children’s literature associations and/or individuals are active on Storylines’ behalf in regions around the country.
Storylines maintains good working relationships with a number of other literature-related organisations including Read NZ Te Pou Muramura, the New Zealand Society of Authors, National Library of New Zealand, The Coalition for Books, and others, as well as publishers, booksellers and funders.
In 2020, as a New Trust Deed and Constitution were adopted for the Trust and Foundation respectively, the names of the two organisations were changed to better reflect their respective roles, and to embrace the use of te reo Māori.
Storylines is known for its advocacy for children’s literature, and for the awards offered to New Zealand writers and illustrators of children’s books.
The awards, which promote and build opportunities for new and emerging talent, are nationally and internationally recognised and use experts from the children’s literature world as adjudicators. Most awards are presented to winners at the annual Storylines National Margaret Mahy Awards event each year. Details of the awards programme, entry criteria and deadlines, and dates of award presentations can be found elsewhere on the Storylines site.
In the past, Storylines published an annual Storylines Notable Book List (ten books in four categories) each February, complementary to the then New Zealand Post awards shortlist, and distributed themed booklists to its members, providing an invaluable resource on the best recently published works by New Zealand authors and illustrators.
It also published The Inside Story, a year book which contained lectures by award winners, New Zealand and international awards, and papers of note relevant to those interested in children’s literature. Back copies of some issues are on the website.
The Storylines Notable Book Awards are now announced in October each year, in five categories. All Storylines Notable Books are listed on the website.
Since 2020, Storylines has worked with children’s television programme ‘What Now?’ to encourage readers to read the Junior Fiction Notable Books of that year. Through on-air and online reviews, and a competition for children across the country they can nominate the Storylines Kids’ Pick choice from the Storylines Junior Fiction Notable Book titles and win a set of Storylines Junior Fiction Notable Books for their school.
For over a decade Storylines ran a major annual festival of children’s literature, which featured New Zealand authors, illustrators, storytellers and performers, plus one or two international guests, at main centres throughout the country. It included free Family Days in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Whangarei and New Plymouth; the Heritage Hotels Seminar Series for adults on a topic of specific interest in children’s literature; workshops for children; and a Story Tour which took authors and illustrators into schools in the Auckland and Northland regions.
The Storylines Festival was recognised as a nominee for the 2005 international Astrid Lindgren Award for the promotion of reading to children. It was believed to be the largest children’s literary festival of its kind in the world.
A review in 2016/17 concluded that, successful though the festival was, it was not reaching young people in smaller centres. A decision was taken to revamp Storylines’ efforts to engage young people with New Zealand writers and illustrators through an expanded Story Tour programme that takes groups of writers and illustrators to early childhood centres, schools and community venues in smaller regional centres and towns. This proved exceptionally successful, reaching 20,000+ young people annually, and has operated from 2018 to the present.
The focus in recent years has also shifted to online presentations, prompted largely by the Covid-19 pandemic, but also welcomed by libraries and schools not able to be reached by face-to-face visits. Read more here.
Other Storylines activities have included “Meet the author/publisher” events arranged in association with publishers, Read NZ Te Pou Muramura, the University of Auckland, National Library and Takapuna Library, to name a few, and Book Chat groups which provided members with an opportunity to learn more about recent publications and to debate the merits (or otherwise) of recently reviewed books.
In 2011, building on hui held during the previous two decades, Storylines hosted a national hui for writers and illustrators with other centres following biennially in subsequent years. The 2017 hui was held by Storylines in Auckland. These hui have proved an invaluable learning and networking experience for new and established writers and illustrators, and are part of Storylines’ support for the local children’s literature community.
Since 2001, the Storylines Foundation (and later the Trust) has been a member of IBBY (International Board of Books for Young People), holding the New Zealand Section membership for the New Zealand children’s literature community. The membership is supported by a consortium of partner organisations, initially Read NZ Te Pou Muramura, alongside publishers HarperCollins, Penguin Random House and Scholastic.
This active sub-group of Storylines nominated Margaret Mahy for the prestigious Hans Christian Anderson Medal, resulting in her winning the award in 2006. In 2007 New Zealand was selected to host International Children’s Book Day.
IBBY NZ also nominates New Zealand books for the IBBY biennial Honor List; has nominated Joy Cowley for the Astrid Lindgren Award; provides regular reviews and news in the IBBY quarterly Bookbird; successfully nominated Bill Nagelkerke (Christchurch City Libraries’ children’s librarian) to serve on the Hans Christian Andersen 2006 jury; and hosted international president Dr Peter Schneck at the 2004 Storylines Festival. Storylines has represented New Zealand at the biennial IBBY World Congress on several occasions; in 2016 New Zealand hosted the very successful IBBY World Congress in Auckland.