Cuddle your Teddy Bear in Troubling Times!

Teddy twins reading in the library. Image: Sue Jane

Why are teddy bears so popular with children and adults alike? Is it because they can be your softest, most huggable companions?! You can hug them for as long as you want, and in return get the best ‘cuddly’ feel ever. Their soft fur and smooth textures make you feel better and immediately cheers you up. Psychologists refer to them as “comfort objects,” and they can help us feel a greater sense of security when moving from one life stage to another, or when things get a little sad and scary.

We love our teddy bears so much that there’s even a Teddy Bears’ Picnic Day to help celebrate your special friend.


Some of our best loved bear stories are based on real events, and, sadly, these events are often about war and conflict. Here are just a few that will make you want to cuddle up with your own teddy and get reading:

Winnie the Pooh

Everyone knows about Winnie the Pooh, but did you know that these stories came about because of a real bear called Winnie? The real Winnie was a black bear who was brought to England from Canada with a vet on his way to World War 1.

Finding Winnie : the story of the real bear who inspired Winnie-the-Pooh / Mattick, Lindsay
“Before there was Winnie-the-Pooh, there was a real bear named Winnie. Here begins the moving true story of the real bear named Winnie adopted by soldiers during World War 1, and the inspiration behind the nation’s best-loved bear, Winnie-the-Pooh. In 1914, Harry Colebourn, a vet on his way to tend horses in World War 1, followed his heart and rescued a baby bear. He named her Winnie, and he took her to war. Harry Colebourn’s real-life great-granddaughter tells the true story of a remarkable friendship and an even more remarkable journey – from the fields of Canada to an army base in England …and finally to London Zoo, where Winnie made another new friend – a boy named Christopher Robin Milne” (Catalogue)

This amazing story has also been published as a chapter book:

Winnie’s Great War / Mattick, Lindsay
“Everyone has heard of Winnie-the-Pooh, but not everyone knows about the real Canadian bear who lent him her name. This is a wonderful tale of courage and friendship, for fans of Michael Morpurgo. Come on a heart-warming adventure, inspired by the journey undertaken by an extraordinary bear called Winnie during World War One.” (Catalogue)

 Anzac Ted

Anzac Ted, tells the story of a teddy bear, that was taken to the front line in World War 1 and then passed through the generations. Although this book is fictional, many ANZAC soldiers did in fact take treasured toys to the front line as a reminder of home and happier times.

Anzac Ted / Landsberry, Belinda
“Anzac Ted is the powerful, poignant story of a little boy’s teddy bear that was passed down to him from his grandfather. Battered, torn, missing an eye and an ear, he might look scary but he’s got a great story to tell. For Anzac Ted went to war, keeping soldiers company and giving them comfort. And while he never won a medal, and now doesn’t even attract a single vote at classroom Toy Shows, if only everyone looked a little deeper: ‘They’d see a hero, plain as day who sits upon my bed. A hero, who saved me and you. His name …is Anzac Ted.’ While several children’s picture books cover the world wars, none has ever made the conflict so accessible to children by telling the story of a bear who went to war. Belinda’s exquisite watercolour illustrations combine with her rhyming text to create a book that, while perfect for parents and teachers to share with children, is also guaranteed to touch the heart of every adult.” (Catalogue)

Josef’s Bear

Josef’s bear is a little wooden bear that was his father’s. This story is set in Germany just after World War 2…

Josef’s bear / Beames, Margaret
“It is Germany in 1948 and the war is over, but 11-year-old Josef still dreams of finding his father. All he has to remember him by is a little wooden bear. When Josef’s home in Berlin was destroyed during the war, he was rescued by Helga, a farmer’s wife, but now Josef is driven from the farm by Helga’s husband. With the bear in his pocket and a pistol in his pack, he heads for Berlin. In the war-ravaged city, now in the throes of the Russian blockade, he is befriended by Elsa and 6-year-old Trudi. Survival is a daily struggle, made possible by the Allied airlift. Josef tries to find work, while continuing to search for his father, and is drawn into an attempt to smuggle a German scientist, wanted by the Russians, out of Berlin. When he meets the Professor and sees a collection of hand-carved animals in his room he realises his search is over – but the house is burning, the Russians are closing in and the only way out is over the roof-tops” (Catalogue)

Pink Rabbit

You couldn’t call Pink Rabbit a teddy Bear, but it is still a cuddly and much-loved soft toy. The book “When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit” is also set in World War 2 and is based on the true story of the book’s author, Judith Kerr. In the book Anna has to choose which toy she wishes to take with her when her family flee their home. She opts to take her new woolly dog, and leave behind her pink rabbit toy, believing she will return to Berlin after a short time. It is from this that the title is derived as she considers that Hitler and the Nazis have “stolen” her much-loved toy.

When Hitler stole pink rabbit / Kerr, Judith
“Suppose your country began to change. Suppose that without your noticing, it became dangerous for some people to live in Germany any longer. Suppose you found, to your complete surprise, that your own father was one of those people. That is what happened to Anna in 1933. She was nine years old when it began, too busy with her schoolwork and toboganning to take much notice of political posters, but out of them glared the face of Adolf Hitler, the man who would soon change the whole of Europe — starting with her own small life. Anna suddenly found things moving too fast for her to understand. One day, her father was unaccountably missing. Then she herself and her brother Max were being rushed by their mother, in alarming secrecy, away from everything they knew — home and schoolmates and well-loved toys — right out of Germany!” (Catalogue)


Leave a poppy

Online Cenotaph of the Auckland War Memorial

image courtesy of rsa.co.nzIf you want to do some searching for family members who fought for New Zealand in World War I or World War II, the Online Cenotaph of the Auckland War Memorial is a great resource. You can even lay a virtual poppy on the wall of a loved one, or the UNKNOWN WARRIOR



And some of our furry friends have overcome scary times to give their humans comfort:

Edward Tulane

The miraculous journey of Edward Tulane / DiCamillo, Kate
“Edward Tulane, a cold-hearted and proud toy rabbit, loves only himself until he is separated from the little girl who adores him and travels across the country, acquiring new owners and listening to their hopes, dreams, and histories.” (Catalogue)

Lockdown Bear

There’s a bear in the window / Pitman-Hayes, June
“There’s a bear in the window of the house across the street. It’s tall and round, with great big feet! I wonder what I would see if I were that bear, and that bear were me? From singer-songwriter June Pitman-Hayes comes a story told in both English and Māori that celebrates the great teddy bear hunt, that entertained thousands of children during lockdown in 2020” (Catalogue)

Using your library – from home!

With our libraries closed while Wellington is at Alert Level 4 we thought it would be a good idea remind you about all the ways you can still use your library from the comfort and safety of your own home – we’ve got you covered!

We have so many really cool resources available in our eLibrary! If you want to have a browse yourself you can check our our Kids’ Guide or have a look through what’s available on our Kids’ Home Page, or just read on…

Stories and Storytimes

If you’re after a book to read, look no further than Borrowbox or Libby. These apps are both free to download – just log in with your library card number and PIN and you’re away! These two have plenty of eBooks and eAudiobooks to keep you occupied on a rainy day at home.

If you’d rather listen to someone read you a story we’ve got more options for you! You can listen to great stories being read aloud by Australian and New Zealand storytellers through the Story Box Library, or you can try out something interactive with the TumbleBook Library. It’s the same deal with these – just log on with your library card!

We also have a whole lot of virtual storytimes from our own librarians available through our Facebook page. Check out the Virtual Storytime and Bedtime Storytime playlists for some great stories we recorded last year.

Things to do

If you’re after a challenge, read through our collection of Family Lockdown Challenges! These are full of exciting activities and ideas for you to do while at home. If you do any of the challenges (particularly the Book Domino Challenge!) be sure to tag us in any photos or videos you take on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.

Our Kids’ Club Book Reviews are still up and running, so you can start earning prizes by writing book reviews! We’ve got a great post here with some tips about how to write a fantastic review. When our libraries are open again you can come on in and collect a plethora of prizes – how cool is that?!

If you’re missing Baby Rock ‘n’ Rhyme or CRAFTerschool go check out the Johnsonville and Tawa Library Facebook pages! If you go through the Videos tab on each page you can easily find the recorded Baby Rock ‘n’ Rhyme sessions from last year, as well as some wonderful craft tutorials.

How adorable are these hedgehogs – and you could make one yourself!

Movies and TV

If there’s someone in your household with an adult library card they’ll be able to access our online streaming services – we have two! Beamafilm and Kanopy are both free to use. You can watch as much as you like on Beamafilm and there are no limits to any of the kids’ content on Kanopy.

Kia kaha, stay safe, and we look forward to seeing you again in person on the other side.

Events and Programmes Resume at Level 1

Kia ora, e te whānau! This is a just a quick message to let you know that as Wellington is moving to COVID-19 Alert Level 1 from 11.59pm tonight, our libraries will be back to normal operating procedures from tomorrow morning, Wednesday 30 June! This means that all of our regular events programmes for children, teens and families will be back on, including:

We’d love to see you there! Don’t forget to keep using the NZ Covid Tracer app whenever you’re out and about in our libraries.

We’re very excited to be back to normal again!

Visiting the Library with Children During Level 2

As the country enters Alert Level 2 following a community outbreak of COVID-19 in Auckland, it is a good opportunity to remind children that things are going to be a little different when you visit the library until the current level is lifted. All of our libraries are open at the moment, but with capacity restrictions and a few other changes — here’s what you might notice:

  • People scanning QR codes as they enter, and a librarian or security guard taking people’s details. Because we have to be careful about how many people can be in the library at once, we have to tick you off and take your details as you come in. Sometimes this will mean you’ll need to wait a little while to get in — don’t worry, everything we’re doing is to try to keep you and your family safe. To make things a little faster, make sure your family has the COVID-19 app downloaded so you can scan in rather than having to sign in!
  • People keeping far apart. When you’re in the library, you’ll see people trying to keep 2m apart as they make their way through the building picking up books. Please remember to keep inside your bubble at all times, and be patient if you need to wait for someone to leave a shelf before you can leap in and grab the book you want!
  • Lots of hand sanitiser! We’re providing a whole bunch of hand sanitiser so everyone can keep clean and safe. Remember, washing your hands often is the best way to kill germs, so make sure you remember to sanitise your hands after touching your face, and before you enter or leave the library.
  • No comfy chairs to sit and read in. We want you to keep your visit as short as possible — pop in, grab your books, and head back home so the next person can enter the library. We know it’s very tempting to find somewhere cosy at the library to curl up and read a book, but while we’re at Alert Level 2, please remember to save the reading for when you get home.
  • No storytimes or other library activities. During Level 2 of the lockdown, we won’t be able to run any of our regular programmes and activities, like Preschool Storytime, Baby Rock and Rhyme, Let’s Go LEGO, Code Club, or CRAFTerschool in person at the library. If you’re looking for that storytime fix, you can check out our playlists on Facebook — we have Preschool Storytimes, Bedtime Stories, Baby Rock and Rhyme and fun craft videos, as well as our popular Family Lockdown Challenge blog posts to keep you virtually entertained.
  • No big family groups. We have to limit the number of people who can be in the library at one time. If you can, look at the library catalogue online, decide what you want, reserve it if you’d like, and send one person from your bubble to the library to collect it. That might not always be possible, which is fine, but just remember to stick inside your bubble if you are visiting the library in a group.

Keep well, stay safe, and don’t stop reading! 🙂

Family Lockdown Challenge: Book Dominoes!

We’ve been thinking hard about fun, creative things we can do with our families or the people in our bubbles over the coming weeks, and after talking to the other librarians we couldn’t resist issuing you with the Book Domino Challenge.

It’s like regular dominoes, but more bookish!

How does the Book Domino Challenge work, you might ask? It’s simple — work together with your bubble-mates to take any number of books, stand them on their ends in a row, and try to create the longest unbroken domino chain you can. Don’t have enough books at home? Not a problem! You can use DVDs, CDs, playing cards, LEGO, blocks, TV remotes, pieces of wood, even actual dominoes — anything you can find that’s rectangular in shape and can stand on its end.

We’d love to see your dominoes too! You can take photos or videos of your Book Domino Challenge chains and tag us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Let’s be creative together in our bubbles!

Stuck for ideas? Check the videos below for two examples of book dominoes put together by your librarians back in 2013. Happy toppling!

COVID-19: Cancelled Events, Programmes and Services

At Wellington City Libraries, we are playing our part in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Unfortunately, this means that we need to cancel some of our popular events and programmes. The following regular library programmes will be cancelled until further notice, starting on Saturday 21st March 2020:

  • Let’s Go LEGO (Johnsonville, Karori, Cummings Park, Khandallah, Tawa, Newtown Libraries)
  • LEGO Time (Johnsonville Library)
  • CRAFTerschool (Johnsonville, Tawa and Miramar Libraries)
  • Social Saturdays (Newtown Library)

Other library programmes, including Preschool Storytime, Kōhunga Kōrero, Baby Rock and Rhyme, class visits and movie nights, are still happening as scheduled. Keep your eye on Wellington City Council’s official page for COVID-19 related announcements for the most up-to-date information.

In addition, Tūhura/The HIVE at Johnsonville Library will be closing until further notice, starting on Saturday 21st March 2020, to reduce the possibility of transmission of COVID-19 through sharing of tactile resources. This means the following programmes are also cancelled until further notice:

  • Code Club Levels 1, 2 and 3
  • Tinker Time for Preschoolers
  • CRAFTerschool
  • Experience VR
  • Tech Time: Play
  • Tech Time: Inspire
  • Open Project Time: 3D Printing
  • Open Project Time: Cut and Etch
  • Open Project Time: Fibrecraft
  • Family Maker Saturdays

The following library services operating out of Tūhura/The HIVE at Johnsonville Library will be unavailable until further notice:

  • All 3D printing services
  • All cutting and engraving services, including laser cutting and use of the Cricut Maker
  • All fibrecraft services, including use of the sewing machines, overlockers, knitting/crocheting supplies, and loom
  • Use of the recording studio

Remember to keep safe, wash your hands frequently, and if you feel unwell, do not visit the library. We have plenty of online resources, including movie streaming, eBooks, digital storytimes, and more to keep you busy if you cannot visit the library!