Storylines Children’s Literature Charitable Trust of New Zealand | Te Whare Waituhi Tamariki o Aotearoa

Guidelines for Authors, Illustrators and Storytellers

Selection criteria and guidelines

Storylines National Story Tours

Storylines has now completed a number of years of its Storylines National Story Tours, set up in 2017 to send leading writers and illustrators into regions where schools, early childhood centres, libraries and community groups may have few opportunities for author visits.

The support of Creative New Zealand and other funders means there is no charge to the schools.

Each five-day tour features four presenters (authors, illustrators, poets, storytellers). They are chosen by a six-member Storylines panel, including the Story Tour Manager and three who have personal experience of tours. Two are authors with considerable knowledge of the children’s/YA writers’ community; three are children’s/YA librarians familiar with what is being published and read.

The Story Tour team: a focus on balance

The panel aims for a well-balanced team to visit the wide age-range of schools, early childhood education centres, libraries and community groups within each region we visit.

A team can comprise writers of fiction (junior or YA), non-fiction, plays or poetry, along with authors/illustrators of picture books or graphic novels. They can be published by mainstream or independent publishers, or be self-published. Experienced storytellers are sometimes included. In addition, for maximum appeal to schools, the panel aims to:

  • a) ensure cultural diversity with the inclusion of (but not limited to) Māori and Pasifika presenters;
  • b) achieve a balance of male/female presenters; and
  • c) have a mix of established and newer presenters.

Once a team is confirmed, the Story Tour Manager ensures that as far as possible the appropriate writer or illustrator goes to the schools (from early childhood through to secondary), libraries and community groups who have requested a visit.

Story Tour presenters: guidelines for selection

The panel considers various factors for selection, based on Storylines’ many years’ experience working with early childhood centres, schools, libraries and community groups and running ‘author talk’ events. The panel looks for presenters with:

  • some publishing history i.e. more than one book (but also see Newer Presenters section below)
  • some experience in presenting to children, from early childhood through to secondary school, through working with the Read New Zealand’s Writers in Schools or as a teacher, librarian or independent school visitor
  • positive reputation within the children’s literature community as good performers and generally adaptable people. (Early childhood centres, schools, libraries and community groups have differing requirements e.g. number of sessions, size of audiences, a particular focus to fit in with their current areas of interest or programmes.)
  • suitability for an intensive five-day tour, staying with the touring group in Storylines-arranged accommodation, travelling to a considerable number of schools within a region and participating in one adult evening event
  • suitability as lively advocates for the importance of books and reading, and as ambassadors for the Storylines Children’s Literature Charitable Trust Te Whare Waituhi Tamariki o Aotearoa.

Newer presenters

The panel acknowledges that the tours should provide Story Tour opportunities for newer writers or illustrators, and aims to cast its net widely and fairly among both well-known and newer presenters. Those who have appeared on the Storylines Notable Books lists, won a Storylines manuscript/illustration award, appeared in the Book Trust awards and shortlists, are always considered.

Normally if a newer writer has only one or two books, and little or no presenting experience, they are unlikely to be selected.

Misconceptions: what the Story Tours are not

With the regional touring format (the tours having replaced the Storylines National Festival Family Days that ran in the main centres for 23 years), the Storylines Story Tours are developing their unique identity in the author, educational and literary calendars.

There are some misconceptions about the Trust’s purpose in running these regional tours. Storylines Story Tours are NOT seen by Storylines Trust as:

  • an opportunity for presenters to promote a new book. Therefore, authors and publishers should not expect that a person will be necessarily considered for a tour to coincide with the release of a new book. Although presenters are, of course, expected to ‘show and tell’ their own work, the greater emphasis is on generically promoting the value of reading and books and a life-long love of story.
  • an opportunity to sell books. Presenters sometimes take books to give away, depending on the amount of room available in the Story Tour vehicle. There can be opportunities to exchange contact details to sell books following the tour.

Approaching Storylines for consideration: ‘Can I apply?’

The selection panel keeps an extensive database of all children’s writers and illustrators currently or recently published in New Zealand, or winning/shortlisted for awards. It does not, therefore, invite applications.

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