New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults 2024: Children’s Finalists!

It’s been another wonderful year for children’s books in Aotearoa New Zealand — so why not check out the shortlist for the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, officially announced last week. This is always a super exciting time of year for us at the library — picture librarians huddled anxiously around computer screens awaiting the announcement, exclaiming with joy and anticipation upon seeing the list go up, scrolling to see if our favourites made the cut.

The good news is many of our favourites did make the cut this year! And there are a few local Wellington authors too! The books on the list are by turns funny, quirky, beautiful, profound, and so distinctly Aotearoa in quality that they only could have come from here. To help you make your mind up about which books you think should win their categories, we thought we’d share the full list here, with links to all the books in our catalogue. Just click on the title and you’ll be able to reserve the next available copy to read. But get in quick — we don’t think they’ll stay on the shelf for very long!

Picture Book Award

Judges’ comments:”The judges were impressed by the boldness and brilliance of this year’s Picture Book Award finalists. Each created a unique world to experience, and demonstrated mastery in writing, illustration, and the harmony between the two.”

At the bach / Cowley, Joy
“Creaky old bed with rumpled sheet, sunburned skin and sandy feet… An evocative bedtime story that conjures the essence of summer at the bach.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Dazzlehands / Cotter, Sacha
“The cow says ‘moo’, the chicken says ‘cluck’ and the pig says … ‘Dazzlehands!’ As hard as the farmer tries, pig won’t go ‘oink’. Instead, pig gets all the animals moving to: ‘Train hands, rain hands, fly-it-like-a-plane hands. Bursting with the razzle, gotta liberate these Dazzlehands!” (Catalogue)

Read this book in te reo Māori

Lucy and the dark / Szymanik, Melinda
“”A story about a child who faces her fears and makes friends with the Dark. They go on a wild nocturnal adventure together – but what happens to everyone else when the Dark has run away? … One night, Lucy befriends the Dark and zooms away with it on an adventure to explore all the wonderful things that happen when the Dark is around. But back home, everyone else is discovering that they really do miss the Dark after all. Can Lucy and Dark be convinced to return?” (Catalogue)

Paku Manu Ariki Whakatakapōkai / Keeble, Michaela
“A bold and multi-layered picture book about self-determination narrated by a young boy full of ideas and questions about growing up, belonging, spirituality, culture and who is the boss”–Publisher’s website.” (Catalogue)

Junior Fiction Award

Judges’ comments: “Themes of identity, belonging, community and connection run throughout all the Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Junior Fiction Award finalists. Engaging stories hook the reader from the start and the judges believe these books have some of the best ever first lines.”

Big Little Blue [3] : DoubleDippers / McGrath, Raymond
“Delightful Bigsies and Littles are back, showcasing the importance of being kind and helping others. There are three simply illustrated, playful stories in this graphic novel-style volume, each one featuring two friends, Big Blue and Little Blue. Each story is connected by a wellbeing theme, and is designed to offer children coping strategies for navigating friendships, understanding emotional responses, and the importance of mindfulness and being yourself.” (Catalogue)

Lopini the Legend / Tuʻakoi, Feana
“When Lopini is replaced as kapa haka leader at school, he starts to spiral. It doesn’t matter that he thinks it’s a good idea, or that he agreed to the change in the first place. He’s a hard-out perfectionist and this feels like a public failure. Lopini’s best mate, Fi, thinks he’s overreacting. After all, he’s so successful that everyone at school calls him Lopini the Legend. But Lopini still freaks out whenever something goes wrong – and he HATES it. He decides to practise failing, so he won’t feel like that anymore. Can Lopini still be a legend, if everyone knows he isn’t perfect?” (Catalogue)

Nine girls / Gregg, Stacy
“They dug a hole and they put the box filled with gold inside it. To keep it safe until they could return, one of them placed a tapu on it. A tapu so that anyone who tried to touch the gold would die. Titch is determined to find the gold buried somewhere on her family’s land. It might be cursed but that won’t put her off. Then an unexpected encounter with a creature from the river reveals secrets lying beneath its surface… As Titch uncovers the truth about the hidden treasure, she learns about her own heritage– and what it’s like to feel like an outsider in your own world.” (Catalogue)

Take me to your leader / Agnew, Leonie
“Eleven-year-old Lucas has got a new worry – his rural school is on the list for closure. What’s his mum going to do if he and his sister have to start travelling to a school an hour or two away? If the closure goes through, they might have to move to the city. And there’s no way Lucas will ever leave his dad’s grave behind. He and his friends come up with a mad idea to revive their town and save their school: an alien encounter. Before they know it, tourists are flocking in to check out the crop circles and it looks like the plan might working. But before Lucas knows it, he’s lost control of his plot, and the chain of unpredictable events that follow quickly turn to chaos!” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Grimmelings / King, Rachael
“The same evening Josh Underhill went missing, the black horse appeared on the hill above the house. Ella knows that words are powerful. So she should have known better than to utter a wish and a curse on the same day. Who is Gus, the boy with the impish grin, who seems to appear in answer to her wish? And what does the black horse want? When Ella finds that her grandmother’s warnings of creatures that dwell in the lake are more than just stories, she and her pony Magpie are drawn into a dangerous, life-saving mission.” (Catalogue)

Read the dyslexia-friendly or ebook edition

Non-Fiction Award

Judges’ comments: The finalists in this year’s Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction encourage children to look closely at both our own history and the natural world around them. Superbly written, illustrated and designed, the judges said all shortlisted books in this category have the wow factor.”

Patu : the New Zealand wars / Bishop, Gavin
“Discover the key people, perspectives and battles of the New Zealand Wars in this… visual history by Gavin Bishop. Auē! Te mamae! Navigate the defining moments of the wars, visit the battle sites and explore the sweeping change that took place in Aotearoa during the 19th century. Guiding readers through the bitter armed clashes over land and sovereignty.” (Catalogue)

The observologist / Clarkson, Giselle
“An observologist is someone who makes scientific expeditions every day, albeit very small ones. They notice interesting details in the world around them. They are expert at finding tiny creatures, plants and fungi. They know that earthworms have bristles, that moths come out in the daytime and how many tentacles a slug has. An observologist knows that there are fascinating things to be found in even the most ordinary places.”–Back cover.

Read as an ebook

Tuatara : a living treasure / Furze, Katie
“Meet Tuatara, ancient wonder, wildlife treasure … and survivor! Blinking, she pulls her scaly body into the light. She’s as long as a finger, and with the row of spines on her back she looks like a baby dragon. Tuatara are survivors of an ancient era and sometimes referred to as living wonders – their closest relatives died out during the time of the dinosaurs 60 million years ago! This book is a fascinating look at the life cycle of a tuatara.” (Catalogue)

Ultrawild : an audacious plan to rewild every city on Earth / Mushin, Steve
“Join maverick inventor Steve Mushin as he tackles climate change with an avalanche of mind-bending, scientifically plausible inventions to rewild cities and save the planet. Jump into his brain as he designs habitat-printing robot birds and water-filtering sewer submarines, calculates how far compost cannons can blast seed bombs (over a kilometre), brainstorms biomaterials with scientists and engineers, studies ecosystems, and develops a deadly serious plan for future cities. A tour de force of extreme problem-solving for anyone who loves big ideas.” (Catalogue)

Read as an ebook

Wot knot you got? : Mophead’s guide to life / Marsh, Selina Tusitala
“‘What do you do if nothing is right – not at home, at school, anywhere? One morning, Selina wakes up with a twisting, tangling, knotty problem. It takes over everyone and everything – work, kids, life, the lot. How can she get out of a knot this tight? Then she remembers: kids write to her all the time – they ask some of life’s toughest questions. Can she help them, and through helping them, can she find a way out of her own? In this self-help give-it-a-go moppy-mayhem-filled workbook-that’s-all-about-play, join Selina as she scribbles and draws and writes her way out of the darkness. A book for readers from eight to eighty and for anyone in a dark place, no matter what knot you’ve got.” (Catalogue)

Illustration Award

Judges’ comments: “From our fraught and bloody history to our wild and colourful internal worlds, all the illustrators on this year’s Russell Clark Award for Illustration shortlist show great sympathy with, and understanding of, their subjects.”

Dazzlehands / Cotter, Sacha
“The cow says ‘moo’, the chicken says ‘cluck’ and the pig says … ‘Dazzlehands!’ As hard as the farmer tries, pig won’t go ‘oink’. Instead, pig gets all the animals moving to: ‘Train hands, rain hands, fly-it-like-a-plane hands. Bursting with the razzle, gotta liberate these Dazzlehands!” (Catalogue)

Read this book in te reo Māori

Paku Manu Ariki Whakatakapōkai / Keeble, Michaela
“A bold and multi-layered picture book about self-determination narrated by a young boy full of ideas and questions about growing up, belonging, spirituality, culture and who is the boss.” (Catalogue)

Patu : the New Zealand wars / Bishop, Gavin
“Discover the key people, perspectives and battles of the New Zealand Wars in this… visual history by Gavin Bishop. Auē! Te mamae! Navigate the defining moments of the wars, visit the battle sites and explore the sweeping change that took place in Aotearoa during the 19th century. Guiding readers through the bitter armed clashes over land and sovereignty’.” (Catalogue)

The dream factory / Matuku, Steph
“An amazing building rises on the edge of town – it’s the dream factory. Every night, it sends out magical mist. Flying cars, flower cakes and talking tigers fill people’s dreams. And the next day, the people make those dreams come true. But when a kererū flies into the dream factory, and a feather floats into a cog, everything goes terribly wrong.” (Catalogue)

Te Kura Pounamu Award for Te Reo Māori

Judges’ comments: “The finalists for this year’s Te Kura Pounamu Award have retold stories of te ao Māori with care, and in a way that is meaningful to young readers. The books all showed different forms of auahatanga creativity, and hiranga inspiration. They also demonstrated exceptional knowledge and understanding of te reo Māori.”

He tārū kahika / Szymanik, Melinda
“The Clouds think Sun and Rain would get along well, but Rain thinks Sun doesn’t want to know her as Sun always vanishes when she turns up. Likewise, Sun feels that Rain stays away when Sun is around. The Clouds think they’d be a good match, however, and scheme a meeting, resulting in the most beautiful union … a rainbow!” (Catalogue)

Read this book in te reo Ingarihi

Te pīkari pipi / Belcher, Angie
“Shuffle to the left, then shuffle to the right. Twist your hips from side to side, with all your might. Wriggle and shuffle along with Mumma and Bubs as they do a happy pipi dance to gather kai from the moana for their picnic dinner with the whānau.” (Catalogue)

Read this book in te reo Inharihi 

Te pukapuka ka kore e pānuihia / Tipene, Tim
“Some people find it hard to read – the boy in this book does. But there are books that make you read them and they open up fantastic worlds in their pages. The Book that Wouldn’t Read is just such a book. Open it – or maybe it will open itself…” (Catalogue)

Read this book in te reo Inharihi 

Te rā kura ki Aotearoa / Bixley, Donovan
“Starting school is a big step up. This book familiarises children and their parents with the structure of the kiwi school day and puts them at ease with elements of the New Zealand curriculum: – What do you do at school? – Who will be there? – What will I learn? – What will my classroom be like? Author and illustrator Donovan Bixley has visited hundreds of schools across Aotearoa and has created a friendly introduction to the kiwi school day, gently incorporating the values of the New Zealand school curriculum: excellence, diversity, teamwork, respect, curiosity, and te ao Maori. Parents and children about to start school will recognise and identify with this book, with the theme, ‘school is fun'” (Catalogue)

Read this book in te reo Inharihi

Best First Book

Judges’ comments: “The books shortlisted for the NZSA Best First Book Award range across categories and showcase the work of very talented first-time authors and illustrators. The judges said the calibre of the finalists bodes well for the future of New Zealand’s literary landscape.”

New dawning / Dixon, A. M.
“In book one of this startling new trilogy, we meet Merel, a girl living on a futuristic island in the middle of a sea. Many years have past since the community survived the floods and the severe heat that has forced their forbears to shadow their world.” (Catalogue)

Paku Manu Ariki Whakatakapōkai / Keeble, Michaela
“A bold and multi-layered picture book about self-determination narrated by a young boy full of ideas and questions about growing up, belonging, spirituality, culture and who is the boss.” (Catalogue)

Rere atu taku poi! = Let my poi fly / Paul, Tangaroa
“Rangi loves doing kapa haka but performing poi is his favourite – even though his classmates say it’s just for girls. What an assumption! When the female leader for the poi falls sick before a school performance, Randi steps into her place. How will the other students and the audience react? ‘Surely a boy can’t lead the poi?'” (Catalogue)

Tsunami / Wenlock, Ned
“At school, being right isn’t always the right answer. Peter’s bull-headed commitment to the truth has already picked him out as a target for the school bullies. The misfit new girl is a complete badass, but seems as interested in his nemesis, Gus, as she is in Peter, and his parents are too busy bickering to care about any of it. It all feels overwhelming to Peter – like a tsunami is coming and he isn’t sure he can stop it.” (Catalogue)

Ultrawild : an audacious plan to rewild every city on Earth / Mushin, Steve
“Join maverick inventor Steve Mushin as he tackles climate change with an avalanche of mind-bending, scientifically plausible inventions to rewild cities and save the planet. Jump into his brain as he designs habitat-printing robot birds and water-filtering sewer submarines, calculates how far compost cannons can blast seed bombs (over a kilometre), brainstorms biomaterials with scientists and engineers, studies ecosystems, and develops a deadly serious plan for future cities. A tour de force of extreme problem-solving for anyone who loves big ideas.” (Catalogue)

Read as an ebook

Out on the Shelves 2024: What’s on at your library

It’s that time of year again! The annual Out On The Shelves campaign runs this year for the entire month of June.

Out on the Shelves is an online resource that connects rainbow young people with the stories that represent them. During their Campaign Month libraries have the opportunity to promote Out on the Shelves and the rainbow items in our collections, take part in the annual Display Competition, and uplift and celebrate rainbow people and stories across Aotearoa.

This year we have a number of exciting activities and events running across out libraries for Out on the Shelves – read on to find out more!

Out on the Shelves 2024: Read the Rainbow

This year we’re challenging you to Read the Rainbow! We’ve put together an online challenge where you earn digital badges for reading and logging books with rainbow characters and themes – can you earn the badges to complete your own rainbow? You can also earn digital badges for reading books that feature a range of different rainbow identities!

It’s easy to sign up and take part – head on over to our Beanstack site to take on the challenge!

Ask a Trans Teen (And Their Parent)Evet title over a rainbow background

Have you ever wanted to ask a question to someone who is young and trans? Or to a parent of trans kids?

As part of their fundraising walk for Gender Minorities Aotearoa, Mindy and Kylie will be joining us at the library for an informal discussion and Q&A session about what it’s like to be trans, or parenting trans kids, in Aotearoa. They’ll be speaking about – and happy to answer questions around – their experiences with school, birth certificates, social and medical transition, and other topics you might want to learn more about, but never had the opportunity to ask.

This event is recommended for ages 10+. Rangatahi under the age of 14 must be accompanied by a caregiver.

Author Talk with Kyle MewburnHeadshot of Kyle Mewburn

Join celebrated author Kyle Mewburn (Old HūhūThe House on the HillFaking it: My Life in Transition) for a fantastic, funny, and frank talk about her life and books, with plenty of opportunity to ask questions. All are welcome to join us for this rare opportunity to hear from one of Aotearoa’s pre-eminent children’s book writers.

This event is recommended for readers of all ages. Tamariki under the age of 14 must be accompanied by their caregiver.

Rainbow Dress-up Storytime

We’re celebrating Out on the Shelves with a very special storytime! Join us for books and songs about being kind, inclusive, and expressing yourself however you choose.

Dress up in your favourite outfit and bring the whole whānau. Tamariki under the age of 14 must be accompanied by their caregiver.

From School to the Moon: New Kids Books in the Collection

What a fabulous selection of new books we have in the collection this month! There are so many that we can’t share them all here, but you can get a glimpse of what’s on offer from our selection below.

Are you a fan of outer space, warring dinosaur kingdoms, or life on the moon? Do you like reading about interesting new sewing projects, supernatural adventures, or …poo? There’s something here for kids of all ages and interests to explore!

Picture Books

Three little monkeys and the Grand Hotel / Blake, Quentin
“Hilda Snibbs has gone to stay at the Grand Hotel with her three little monkeys, Tim and Sam and Lulu. It’s sure to be very relaxing. But as everyone knows, when you take three little monkeys away with you, anything can happen…” (Catalogue)

Are you big / Willems, Mo
“Are YOU big? A simple question sends readers to the far reaches of the universe. From an average-size kid . . . to a hot air balloon . . . to a storm cloud . . . to the M100 Galaxy, size is a matter of perspective.” (Catalogue)

Dragonboy and the 100 hearts / Napoleoni, Fabio
“Dragonboy and his stuffed-animal friends are stuck at home, feeling as gloomy as the weather. If only they could go outside and discover something. Inside everything is the same as always. Or is it…. With patience, kindness, and old treasures made new, best friends Dragonboy, Yellow Kitty, Darwin, Drako, and Simon realize that an adventure can happen anywhere if they listen to each other and follow their hearts.” (Catalogue)

The ogre who wasn’t / Morpurgo, Michael
“Princess Clara misses her father, the King. He is always away, leaving her with the people in the palace who do nothing but tell her off. All Clara wants is to escape outside and make friends with the creatures that she finds there. Her best friend is a very small ogre. Ogres are usually baddies, aren’t they? Not this one… and he might just be able to help make Clara’s dreams come true. Maybe he isn’t an ogre at all?” (Catalogue)


Eowulf [1] : of monsters & middle school / Cavallaro, Michael
“She’s traversed reality, rescued unicorn soldiers from a pocket dimension, and fought an evil god with the help of her friend Nico Bravo. Pretty rad, even for a descendant of the legendary monster hunter Beowulf! Now she’s back home in her boring New Jersey suburb, where there are no monsters, unless you count her classmate Amadeus Hornburg – the kid everyone loves to hate. But when a mysterious supervillain returns to wreak havoc, Eowulf and Amadeus must join forces. Can Eowulf live up to her legacy and become the greatest monster hunter of all!” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Absolute Zeros : Camp Launchpad / Smith, Greg
“Summer is in full swing, which means a new class of kids has arrived to attend the best space camp in Florida… or at least, it used to be. With growing competition from the trendy rival camp next door, Camp Launchpad needs all the help it can get to keep its doors open. Campers Val, Mark, and Pete are here for very different reasons, but they all have one huge thing in common: their future in the stars launches from here… if there’s still a camp to launch from.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Cross my heart and never lie / Dåsnes, Nora
“Tuva is starting seventh grade, and her checklist of goals includes: writing out a diary, getting a trendy look, building the best fort in the woods with her BFFs, and much more. But when she starts school, nothing is how she hoped it would be. Tuva is caught between feeling like a kid and wanting to know HOW to become a teenager. Then Miriam shows up and suddenly Tuva feels as if she’s met her soulmate. Can you fall in love with a girl, keep it from your friends, and survive? For Tuva, it may be possible, but it’s definitely not easy.”(Adapted from Catalogue)

You wish / Victor, Jeff
“Avery McLean is just your normal ten-year-old tomboy, helping her dad run a tiny gas station in the middle of the desert. With no friends and no fun to be had, Avery has been teaching herself card tricks to entertain passing motorists, figuring that her lonely life could use a little magic. Little does she know how much magic is about find her! By releasing the power hidden within a dusty old lamp, Avery and her new companion Gribblet are thrust into a stunning supernatural world, and must discover her own power, save her family, and find answers to questions that will change her life forever.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Chapter Books

Louder than hunger / Schu, John
“Jake volunteers at a nursing home because he likes helping people. He likes skating and singing, playing Bingo and Name That Tune, and reading mysteries and comics aloud to his teachers. He also likes avoiding people his own age . . . and the cruelty of mirrors . . . and food. Jake has read about kids like him in books–the weird one, the outsider–and would do anything not to be that kid, including shrink himself down to nothing. But the less he eats, the bigger he feels. How long can Jake punish himself before he truly disappears?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Hunted / Melki-Wegner, Skye
“When the Fallen Star struck, it brought death and despair. But some dinosaurs survived and were changed. Their minds grew alert. They learned to speak. To dream. To wage war. As the two remaining dinosaur kingdoms fight for territory, Eleri, disgraced prince, is exiled from his home for saving an enemy soldier. Banished to the Deadlands, a terrifying desert full of tar pits and ruthless carnivores, he must join forces with a group of questionable allies to avoid becoming prey. When Eleri and his fellow exiles discover the horrific truth behind the war, they must do all they can to save their kingdoms from a lurking predator and a secret plot that might destroy them all.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Coyote lost and found / Gemeinhart, Dan
“Almost a year after settling down in Oregon, Coyote embarks on a cross-country road trip with her dad to scatter her mom’s ashes, but the journey takes an unexpected turn when she realizes the secret to the chosen resting place lies in a lost book.” (Catalogue)

Lunar / Bradford, Chris
“Luna loves living on the moon. She enjoys helping her father – a Moon Miner – on his search for precious minerals and rocks. But when a devastating meteor strike destroys their base, Luna is left stranded alone on the moon. With no shelter and few supplies, she must find a way to survive. The problem is – any hope of rescue is at least 3 days and 400,000 kilometres away … and her oxygen is fast running out!” (Catalogue)

Non Fiction

My book of horses and ponies
“Read all about favourite breeds from Shire horse to Shetland pony, find out about horses and ponies from around the globe, and be amazed by their beautiful colourings and patterns. Filled with stunning photographs, simple illustrations, and fantastic facts, this book features all the information a child would need to know about these wonderful animals, including their gaits – from trotting to galloping, horse families, and why horse-riding is good for you. Young equine enthusiasts will be excited to read this wonderful treasury of horses and ponies.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

We need poo / Farmer, Addy
“Poo is a home, a defence, a nursery, a seed-sower and lots of laughs, too. Poo is power! People and other animals poop out billions of tonnes of valuable resources every year. What a waste! In nature, poo is a way for plants and animals to help each other live and grow. It’s a language of conversation among all living things. If we can learn from other animals, poo can be used to enrich the soil, grow food, give us renewable energy, and keep our drinking water clean.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The ultimate kid’s guide to weather / Marder, Jenny
“Welcome to Earth’s atmosphere, where all weather happens! With stunning photos of Earth’s wildest weather, easy at-home experiments, and fun activities, this is the only guide kids need on their journey of learning about precipitation, lightning, thunder, tornadoes, and so much more! Author Jenny Marder, a senior science writer for NASA, accessibly explores all there is to know about weather for curious young readers.” (Catalogue)

Kids’ sewing workshop : 26 projects for young makers / Thiboult-Demessence, Karine
“Kids’ Sewing Workshop features 26 awesome patterns for young people who enjoy sewing. Each creation can be made on a sewing machine by following the super simple instructions that are accompanied by illustrated steps and diagrams. The garments are sized for an average 10-year-old girl and are sized loose.” (Catalogue)

For more new books in the collection go to: What’s new / May 2024 (

Vaiaso o le Gagana Sāmoa | Sāmoa Language Week 2024

Tālofa Lava! Welcome to Vaiaso o le Gagana Sāmoa, Sāmoan Language Week 2024! 

What is Sāmoa Language Week? 

Sāmoan Language Week | Vaiaso o le Gagana Sāmoa is celebrated this year from 26th May – 1st June 2024. This is a chance for all New Zealanders to celebrate Sāmoan language, Sāmoan culture in New Zealand and around the world, and to promote the use of Sāmoan language in schools, at work and at home. 

This year’s theme for Vaiaso o le Gagana Sāmoa is: 

“Tautua I le alofa, manuia e lumana’i”

which means 

“Serve in love for a blessed future”

Tautua i le alofa? Serve in Love? 

Tautua, or service, is a key value in fa’a Sāmoa. Tautua is about all the things we do to help our community. Any group of people – a family, a team, even a country – is made up of separate people, all using their unique skills for the good of others. 

A lot of kids learn to serve just by being part of a Fanau (family). Parents work hard to provide for their children, and children learn to help their parents in their own ways. 

Tautua is a way of life – something to be practised everywhere you go. As you grow up and venture into the wider world, you can learn to serve other communities, like schools, churches or workplaces. 

Show some alofa this vaiaso, and let’s lift ourselves up in service to everyone! 

Be proud of your language in your families  

Pride in Gagana Sāmoa, like any language, begins in the home. We are first taught in our homes how to speak and show respect to elders and others. We learn to show kindness to visitors, to give thanks for gifts and stories shared. Here are some easy phrases you can practise with your fanau!  

Thanks to the Ministry for Pacific Peoples for this resource! Find others like it over on their website: Ministry for Pacific Peoples — Pacific Language Weeks ( 

Be proud of your written language  

As our world changes, Gagana Sāmoa also needs to adapt and change. Written Samoan language is becoming more valued in schools, workplaces, places of worship, and many other areas of our lives. Check out our new Sāmoan books in the Library. 

It’s a wonderful thing to learn how to read, understand, speak and write Gagana Sāmoa. Be proud of your written language and you can teach your friends!  

All our libraries have Sāmoan books, but Ngā Puna Waiora Newtown Library has the biggest collection. If you don’t have a library card- you can sign up for free! 

Gather up your friends and family, and listen to a storytime together! 

Here is a storytime in English and Gagana Sāmoa, How Do You Say ‘Thank You’? by Karamia Müller. Many thanks to the publisher Beatnik Publishing for allowing us to share this story! 

Lewis Ioane made this video when he worked for Wellington City Libraries and now he works at the Porirua City Libraries!

Awesome Sāmoan books in our collection 

Losi the Giant fisherman : Samoan myths and legends pick a path collection / Malaeulu, Dahlia
“Losi the Giant was the greatest fisherman across all the moana. A mischievous and loyal friend to sea creatures and all humans, Losi will always be remembered as the hero who brought taro, the food of the Gods’, to Earth.” (Catalogue)

Author and Publisher Dahlia Malaeulu lives in Wellington and has written and published lots of Sāmoan books. You can read her blog about how Losi the Giant fisherman was shaped by her son Mase who has Autism. 

Available from Mila’s Books! 

Also, read this really interesting article on the Spinoff!

Samoan heroes / Riley, David
“A collection of inspirational stories of achievers who have Samoan ancestry. It includes: contemporary heroes like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Troy Polamalu, Judge Ida Mālosi, Savage and Associate Professor Donna Adis; historical figures like Emma Coe, Tamasese, Salamāsina and Lauaki; legends like Sina, Tiʻitiʻi and Tigilau.” (Catalogue)

Fanene Peter Maivia : o le atali’i o Samoa / Riley, David
“Fānene Peter Maivia – O le Atali’i o Samoa, o se tala ofoofogia e fa’atatau i se ali’i Polenisia na avea ma tama ta’uta’ua i le fa’āgatama o le pi’i fa’apolōfesa. O le olaga o Fānene na amata mai i Samoa, ma na ia fa’alauiloa le igoa o Samoa i le lalolagi e ala i le ta’aloga o le pī’iga. O ia o se ulua’i tagata ta’alo iloga na taula’i iai moemitiga ma fa’anaunauga o isi tagata ta’alo i lea lava ta’aloga o le pi’i, e pei o le atali’i o si ona afafine, o Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.”–Publisher’s description.” (Catalogue)

Brush up on your geography and history with:

Sāmoa / Va’afusuaga, Jane
“The islands of Samoa are full of rich history and culture. Describes the history, customs, geography, and culture of the people who live there, and provides authentic vocabulary words for an immersive experience. Includes a glossary, index, and bibliography for further reading.” (Catalogue)

Samoa / Aiono-Iosefa, Sarona
“Introduces the history, geography, weather, flora and fauna, food, social structure, political history, religion, and the unique ceremonies of American Samoa and independent Samoa. Suggested level: intermediate, junior secondary.” (Catalogue)

Samoa / Malaeulu, Dahlia
“Samoa explains the fundamental values of Fa’asamoa (Samoan life), including connection to ‘aiga, nu’u (village), land and religion. It shows how families in Samoa live, how they are educated, and how they celebrate and commemorate through dance, music and festivals – while exploring how Samoans in Aotearoa maintain and adapt their culture. With colour photographs throughout, the book contains pull-out boxes of information, making the text easy to access.” (Catalogue)

Samoa & Tuvalu / Guile, Melanie
This book contains information about the history, culture and people of Sāmoa and nearby Tuvalu. A great book to have just in time for Sāmoa Language Week!

Faʻafetai lava ma ʻia manuia tele le Vaiaso o le Gagana Sāmoa! 

Thank you and have a very blessed Sāmoan Language Week 

Adventures Through Time!

The basis for so many wonderful gems in our collection of children’s fiction lies in the question of what it would be like to travel back into the past. In these books, we also meet characters who encounter children from other times, as though they have stepped from one time into another: a time slip. Clocks striking 13, medieval mansions, magical statues in mysterious gardens, sleeping in a certain bed or dressing up in historical clothing – discover what trigger it might be that could open a window for you to explore another world!

Amorangi and Millie’s trip through time / Keenan, Lauren (Children eBook Libby)
“Amorangi and Millie lost their mum. Their only clue to her whereabouts is a carving on a tree that says, I’m in the past! Rescue me! To do this, Amorangi and Millie must travel up every branch of their family tree and collect an object from each ancestor they meet. They must then be back in the modern day before the sun sets, or they’ll all be trapped forever in the past…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Charlotte sometimes / Farmer, Penelope
“It is Charlotte’s first night at boarding school. Before she goes to sleep, she sees from the window a corner of the new building. But when she wakes up, instead of the building there is a huge, dark cedar tree, and the girl in the next bed is not the girl who slept there last night. She calls Charlotte ‘Clare’, and says she is her younger sister Emily. Somehow, Charlotte has slipped back forty years to 1918 and the end of the First World War. Charlotte and Clare swap places ever night until one day Charlotte becomes trapped in 1918 and must find a way to return to her own time before the end of term.” (Catalogue)

The house of Arden / Nesbit, E.
“After the presumed death of their long-absent father, Edred inherits the title of Lord Arden and moves with his sister Elfrida into the decrepit family castle where they find an ancient spell that conjures up the magical Mouldiwarp and, with his help, set off on a journey through time in search of the lost Arden treasure.” (Catalogue)

Ming and Flo fight for the future / French, Jackie
“Twelve-year-old Ming Qong is convinced that girls must have changed the world, even if they are rarely mentioned in history books. So when Ming gets the chance to go back in time, she imagines herself changing destinies from a glittering palace or an explorer’s ship. Instead, she ends up in Australia in 1898, living a tough life as Flo Watson on a drought-stricken farm. […] But change is never easy, so how can one girl change the world?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Tom’s midnight garden / Pearce, Philippa
“Tom is furious. His brother, Peter, has measles, so now Tom is being shipped off to stay with Aunt Gwen and Uncle Alan in their boring old apartment. There’ll be nothing to do there and no one to play with. Tom just counts the days till he can return home to Peter. Then one night the landlady’s antique grandfather clock strikes thirteen times, leading Tom to a wonderful, magical discovery and marking the beginning of a secret that’s almost too amazing to be true…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The children of Green Knowe ; and, the river at Green Knowe / Boston, L. M.
“Tolly’s great-grandmother wasn’t a witch, but both she and her old house Green Knowe were full of a very special kind of magic. And Green Knowe turned out not to be the lonely place Tolly had imagined. There were other children living in the house – children who had been happy there centuries before. These enchanting, haunting stories from Carnegie-winner Lucy M. Boston are true modern classics.” –Back cover.” (Catalogue)
A stitch in time / Lively, Penelope
“Maria is always getting lost in the secret world of her imagination… A ghostly mystery and winner of the Whitbread Award,republished in the Collins Modern Classics range.” (Catalogue)

When Marnie was there / Robinson, Joan G
“Anna hasn’t a friend in the world until she meets Marnie among the sand dunes. But Marnie isn’t all she seems. Sent away from her foster home one long, hot summer to a sleepy Norfolk village by the sea, Anna dreams her days away among the sandhills and marshes. She never expected to meet a friend like Marnie, someone who doesn’t judge Anna for being ordinary and not-even-trying. But no sooner has Anna learned the loveliness of friendship than Marnie vanishes.” (Catalogue)

A tale of Time City / Jones, Diana Wynne
“London, 1939. Vivian Smith thinks she is being evacuated to the countryside because of the war. But she is being kidnapped–out of her own time. Her kidnappers are Jonathan and Sam, two boys her own age, from a place called Time City. Built eons ago on a patch of space outside time, Time City was designed especially to oversee history. But now history is going critical, and Jonathan and Sam are convinced that Time City’s impending doom can only be averted by a Twenty Century girl named Vivian Smith. Too bad they have the wrong girl…” (Catalogue)

Older readers / Young Adult:

A traveller in time / Uttley, Alison
“When Penelope goes to stay with relatives in an ancient Derbyshire farmhouse, she is drawn to the place and longs to discover its secrets. She gets her wish, and is transported back to the 16th century and a plot to rescue Mary Queen of Scots.” (Catalogue)

Legacy / Hereaka, Whiti
“Seventeen-year-old Riki is worried about school and the future, but mostly about his girlfriend, who has suddenly stopped texting him. But on his way to see her, he’s hit by a bus and his life radically changes. Riki wakes up one hundred years earlier in Egypt, in 1915, and finds he’s living through his great-great-grandfather’s experiences in the Māori Contingent. At the same time that Riki tries to make sense of what’s happening and find a way home, we read transcripts of interviews Riki’s great-great-grandfather gave in 1975 about his experiences in this war and its impact on their family. Gradually we realise the fates of Riki and his great-great-grandfather are intertwined.” (Catalogue)

Aotearoa Spanish Language Week 2024

Kia ora and ¡Hola!

Here at Wellington City Libraries we are celebrating Aotearoa Spanish Language Week.

Hablas espanol? Do you speak Spanish?

Hablo un poco de Español (Eh-span-yole). I speak a little Spanish 

¿Dónde estás? Where are you?

Estoy en le biblioteca. I am at the library.

¿Sabías? Did you know?

  • There are over 500 million speakers of Spanish worldwide.

This is mainly because the Spanish colonised many different parts of the world. Countries with Spanish as an official language are called Hispanic. Most of them are in the Americas, which make up Latin America.

Hispanophone Global World Map from Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

  • The first Spanish-speaking immigrants to New Zealand.

a family with 3 children sit facing the camera. Black and White image.

Image: “Chileans become New Zealanders” by John Wilson in Story: Latin Americans, Te Ara Encyclopaedia of New Zealand.

The first Spanish-speaking immigrants to New Zealand arrived in the late 19th century so they could work in the gold mines. Most of them were men from the Spanish-speaking countries of South America.

  • First Chileans arrived in New Zealand in 1977

When the military took over the government in Chile, families like the Guerreros, pictured opposite, were forced to leave their country as refugees. If you would like to learn more about our first Chilean immigrants, click on the photo or visit the link below to read about them and other immigrants from Latin America on Te Ara Encylopaedia of New Zealand.

Cool and interesting words in Spanish Español

One really interesting thing about learning another language is that there are lots of words that don’t have an exact translation into English. Here are some words in Spanish we think are extra cool.

  • empalagar: When you dislike something because the flavour is too sweet.
  • sobremesaWhen you finish a meal and stay at the table sharing a conversation, after everyone has eaten.
  • pena ajena: To feel embarrassed on behalf of someone else.

Here are some English words that come from Spanish Español:

  • overol: overalls
  • suéter: sweater
  • bulevar: boulevard
  • fútbol: football

Storytime Tiempo de cuentos at Karori Library

Join Karori Library in celebrating Aotearoa Spanish Language week with fun and interactive bilingual stories, games and language resources for pre schoolers. Nau mai rā tātou katoa. Everybody is welcome.

Tuesday 21 May, 10:30am – 11:30am

Te Māhanga Karori Library

Karori Library also have a new programme called Cuentacuentos – story time sessions entirely in Spanish! Every first Saturday of the month at 11 AM.

Toitoi Magazine App Toitoi Revista aplicación

Check out the Toitoi Magazine Latin America Special Issue app — it has stories, poems and art by kids about the vibrant cultures of Latin America. You can read in English, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese, thanks to the Latin America Centre of Asia-Pacific Excellence.

Readers can listen to the stories and poems in translation, tap to hear individual words and spellings and even record their own narration.

A fun quiz Una prueba divertida

Visit the Aotearoa Spanish Language Week website for the answers, and for more fun activities for the whole whānau!

Spanish Books Libros de Español

Mi perro solo habla español / Cáceres, Andrea
“Cuando Aurora llegó a los Estados Unidos, aprendió a hablar inglés, pero Nena, su spaniel, no. Por eso, cuando pasea a Nena, Aurora les explica a sus nuevos amigos que su mascota solo habla español. Ella les dice: Nena no entiende la palabra “sit” pero sí entiende “siéntate”. […] ¡Pero ella sí que puede oler un “postre”! Con dulzura y encanto, la autora e ilustradora Andrea Cáceres cuenta una tierna e incomparable historia sobre una niña, su mascota y un amor que transciende cualquier idioma.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Leo Messi / Sánchez Vegara, Ma Isabel
“In this book from the highly acclaimed Little People, BIG DREAMS series, discover the incredible life of Leo Messi, one of the worlds most skilled and celebrated footballers. Leo Messi tells the inspiring story of a young boy from Argentina who became one of the worlds greatest footballers.” (Catalogue)

Cucú-tras by Francesca Ferri
This book invites you to play a fun game: the “Cucú-tras”. This book has great illustrations with cheerful colours and you will have fun lifting the flaps to find different farm animals.

Los tipos malos en el peor día del mundo / Blabey, Aaron
“¡Salve al príncipe heredero Mermelada! ¡Pliégate a su malvada magnificencia! ¡Arrodíllate ante su gloria de manos de traseros! O…si quieres…¡NO! Puede que los Tipos Malos y las Chicas Aún Peores hayan sido derribados, pero ¿significa eso que se quedarán en el suelo? ¡De ninguna manera, muchachos! Ponte los pantalones de fiesta: ¡se acerca la batalla definitiva entre malo y MAAAAAALO!” (Catalogue)

La lección de August by R. J. Palacio

Ten-year-old Auggie Pullman, who was born with extreme facial abnormalities and was not expected to survive, goes from being home-schooled to entering fifth grade at a private middle school in Manhattan, which entails enduring the taunting and fear of his classmates as he struggles to be seen as just another student.

If you’d like to read more books in Spanish, check out some of our favourites on this blog post, or view the full list on our catalogue.

Gasav Ne Fäeag Rotuạm Ta: Rotuman Language Week 2024

Noaʻia ʻe mḁuri gagaj ʻatakoa! Welcome to Gasav Ne Fäeag Rotuạm Ta | Rotuman Language Week 2024

Poster. Poster image: Rotuman people sitting under a tree playing musical instruments and laughing. Text: Fäeag Rotuạm Ta Everyday. Sustaining our language and culture. Rotuman Language week. 12 - 18 May.

Download a Rotuman Language Week Poster!

What is Rotuman Language Week?

Rotuman Language Week is the first in a series of Pasifika Language Weeks that are celebrated in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

New Zealand is the only country in the world where the languages and culture of our Pasifika cousins are celebrated. Fäeag Rotuạm, the Rotuman language, is the first of eleven Pasifika language weeks this year, and it runs from the 12 – 18 May 2024.

Where is Rotuma you ask? The main island of Rotuma is about 13km by 4km and is about 580km from Fiji’s capital, Suva. Rotuma is a dependency of Fiji, so Rotumans will usually speak Fijian and English too! There are about 2000 Rotumans living on the island, and 10,000 living in mainland Fiji and globally.

Here is a cool little video about Rotuma Day and the history of Rotuma by Tagata Pasifika.

This year’s theme for Gasav Ne Fäeag Rotuạm Ta is:

Vetḁkia ‘os Fäega ma Ag fak hanua – Sustaining our Language and Culture.

In these times, when it sometimes it feels like things are just moving too fast, we think this is a wonderful idea to reflect on.

So how do you speak Rotuman?

Well, Rotumans roll their ‘R’s and pronounce ‘G’ with a smooth ‘ing’ sound, similar to how ‘ng’ is pronounced in te reo Māori.

Here are some key phrases in Rotuman [Row-too-man]:

Here is an audio file so you can hear how to pronounce Noa’ia (Hello)

Find more words and phrases like the ones above in this language guide produced by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples.

Here is a really interesting interview from RNZ with Letila Mitchell, the artistic director of Rako, a Rotuman dance group from when they visited NZ in 2023.

If you want to participate in some of the events around the country, here is the Calendar of Events and the official Facebook Page.

The Ministry for Pacific Peoples provides great resources and information about our Pasifika languages and cultural events. Visit the official website for more information about Rotuman Language Week 2024!

Let’s sign together! New Zealand Sign Language Week 2024

Did you know that every May is a special time in New Zealand? It’s when we celebrate New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) Week, a fantastic opportunity to honour and recognise the importance of NZSL as one of our country’s official languages alongside te reo Māori.

During NZSL Week, we have the chance to learn about the rich and diverse culture of the Deaf community. It is a time for everyone to come together, break down any barriers that may exist, and make sure everyone feels included and valued.

A fantastic way to engage with NZSL Week is by exploring resources like the official website, where you can learn how to fingerspell your name or basic phrases to use with your family and friends.

Another way to join the celebration is by discovering books and movies that portrait Deaf culture. Check out these titles from our catalogue! There are so many amazing stories out there that can teach about NZSL and what it means to be part of the Deaf community.

So, let’s join hands and hearts in celebrating together! Happy NZSL week everyone!

Picture books

Moses goes to a concert / Millman, Isaac
“Moses and his schoolmates, all deaf, attend a concert where the orchestra’s percussionist is also deaf. Includes illustrations in sign language and a page showing the manual alphabet.” (Catalogue)

Reena’s rainbow / White, Dee
“Reena is deaf and Dog is homeless, but they are also so much more than that. At first Reena and Dog feel like they don’t belong, but when they form a unique bond with each other, and become friends with the hearing children in the park, they discover that everyone is different and special in their own way.” (Catalogue)

True stories

Listen : how Evelyn Glennie, a deaf girl, changed percussion / Stocker, Shannon
“A nonfiction picture book biography celebrating Evelyn Glennie, a deaf woman, who became the first full-time solo percussionist in the world”– Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)

Helen Keller / Sánchez Vegara, Ma Isabel
“Little Helen was eager to learn about the world. After falling ill during childhood, she became deaf and blind. When Anne Sullivan, a teacher, came into her life, Helen learned how to communicate in different ways. She became the first deaf-blind person to earn a college degree and toured the world advocating for the rights of disabled people.” — Back cover.” (Catalogue)

Ninita’s big world : the true story of a deaf pygmy marmoset / Marsh, Sarah Glenn
“The heart-tugging true story of how YouTube star Ninita–a deaf, orphaned pygmy marmoset (the smallest type of monkey) –found family, friendship, and a forever home! Illustrated in full colour”– Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)

Comics, manga and graphic novels

The Baby-sitters Club [12] : Jessi’s secret language : a graphic novel / Chau, Chan (Children eBook Libby)
“Jessi recently moved to Stoneybrook and is one of the newest members of The Baby-sitters Club. She’s getting ready to start regularly sitting for the BSC’s newest charge, Matt Braddock. Matt has been deaf since birth and uses sign language to communicate, so Jessi has to use it, too. It’s a secret language! Soon all the neighbourhood kids want to learn how to sign, which keeps the BSC busy.” (Catalogue)

El Deafo : superpowered edition / Bell, Cece
“Starting a new school is scary, even more so with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest. At her old school, everyone in Cece’s class was deaf. Here she is different. She is sure the kids are staring at the Phonic Ear, the powerful aid that will help her hear her teacher. Then Cece makes a startling discovery. With the Phonic Ear she can hear her teacher not just in the classroom. This is power, maybe even superpower. Cece is on her way to becoming El Deafo, listener for all. Can Cece channel her powers into finding the thing she wants most, a true friend?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A silent voice : complete collector’s edition. 1 / Ōima, Yoshitoki
“Shoya is a bully. When Shoko, a girl who can’t hear, enters his elementary school class, she becomes their favourite target, and Shoya and his friends goad each other into devising new tortures for her. But the children’s cruelty goes too far. Shoko is forced to leave the school, and Shoya ends up shouldering all the blame. Six years later, the two meet again. Can Shoya make up for his past mistakes, or is it too late?” (Catalogue)

Chapter books

Hello, universe / Kelly, Erin Entrada
“Virgil feels out of place in his crazy-about-sports family. Valencia is deaf, smart, and loves everything about nature. Kaori is a self-proclaimed psychic, whose little sister, Gen, is always following her around. And Chet wishes the weird kids would just stop being so different so that he can concentrate on basketball. They aren’t friends. But when Chet pulls a prank that traps Virgil and his pet guinea pig at the bottom of a well, Kaori, Gen, and Valencia begin a quest to find the missing Virgil.” (Catalogue)

Wonderstruck : a novel in words and pictures / Selznick, Brian
“Having lost his mother and his hearing in a short time, twelve-year-old Ben leaves his Minnesota home in 1977 to seek the father he never knew in New York City, and meets there Rose, who is also longing for something missing from her life. Ben’s story is told in words; Rose’s in pictures.” (Catalogue)

You don’t know everything, Jilly P / Gino, Alex
“When her new baby sister is born deaf, Jilly makes an online connection with a fellow fantasy fan, who happens to be black and deaf, and begins to learn about the many obstacles that exist in the world for people who are different from her.” — (Source of summary not specified)” (Catalogue)

Show me a sign / LeZotte, Ann Clare
“Mary Lambert has always felt safe and protected on her beloved island of Martha’s Vineyard. Her great-great-grandfather was an early English settler and the first deaf islander. Now, in 1805, over a hundred years later, many people there — including Mary — are deaf, and nearly everyone can communicate in sign language. Mary has never felt isolated. She is proud of her lineage. But recent events have delivered winds of change. (Written by a deaf author and based upon a true story.)” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Te Ara Pukapuka Children’s Walk at Central Park

Te Ara Pukapuka has now landed at Central Park, Brooklyn, with a brand new pukapuka carefully selected for this location! We previously let you know that Central Park was the location for the next installation of Te Ara Pukapuka, but we didn’t tell you which pukapuka you’d be reading as you follow the path through the park!

Now that it’s there and ready to read, we can make the announcement!

The first board with the title "you have found Te Ara Pukapuka" written on it and the cover of Pakupaku Pīwakawaka

Our Te Ara Pukapuka welcome page

Wellington City Libraries and the Wellington City Parks, Sport & Recreation team have partnered with author Marion Day and the Upstream: Friends of Central Park environmental group to bring Pakupaku Pīwakawaka by author Marion Day and illustrator Anna Evans to Central Park. This wonderful pukapuka is available to borrow from our libraries, to buy from all good bookstores and Marion Day’s website, and of course, to read as you wander along the trails at Central Park! Each page you find will direct you towards the next as you stroll through the park.

Te Ara Pukapuka Central Park begins (and ends!) at the main entrance to Central Park on Brooklyn Road – right by the bus stop. You can find the entrance here on Google Maps. Following the story through the park will take you into the bush, near the stream, and up past the playground and excellent flying fox. The trail is nice and wide and is suitable if you have a stroller or are a confident wheelchair user – there is a steep-ish downhill section!

A Te Ara Pukapuka board with the playground behind it

Pause at the playground halfway through your Central Park Te Ara Pukapuka journey!

Pakupaku Pīwakawaka tells the story of a fantail who is tasked with keeping harmful creatures out of Tane’s forest. This pukapuka also briefly introduces us to a pīwakawaka who looks a little different to the grey, black, and brown fantails that we usually see around Wellington. When we asked Upstream if there were any creatures or critters they’d like to see featured in a book at Central Park, they let us know that there are many fantails who live in the park, and they’ve also started seeing black fantails around too.

A black fantail perching on a branch side-on

A black morph fantail. Will you spot one at Central Park?
Image: 341885505by Alan Bell on iNaturalist, licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0 DEED

There are two colourations (or morphs) of Pīwakawaka, the pied morph (grey, black, and brown), and the black morph. It’s very rare to find a North Island fantail that isn’t the pied morph, and only around 5% of South Island Fantails are black morphs. This makes it pretty exciting to find black Pīwakawaka in Central Park right here in Wellington!

Ngā mihi to everyone who helped bring Pakupaku Pīwakawaka to Central Park, and we hope you enjoy reading it as you wander the trails.

Tūhono 2024: A librarian’s guide to crafting your poem

If you haven’t heard already, it’s only a few days until May 12th when Tūhono submissions close, and we still want your poems!

Tūhono is Wellington City Libraries’ annual poetry journal for kids and teens. You can find more info about how to submit, as well as this year’s theme, here.

Poetry can be a daunting form of writing for anyone, but it needn’t be! The library has lots of cool books with some great examples and techniques for crafting your own poem. You may think that your poem needs to be incredibly wise or complex, but as poet Carol Ann Duffy once said:

You can find poetry in your everyday life, your memory, in what people say on the bus, in the news, or just what’s in your heart.

So if you’ve been thinking of submitting a poem but aren’t sure where to start, this blog post aims to help you do just that! Read on to dive into the world of children’s poetry. ✨

Poetry forms

A good starting point for any poem is a bit of structure i.e. choosing a form. Of course, you can write a poem that doesn’t follow any traditional form conventions, but forms provide a great framework for your ideas to really shine! Take for example, shape poems. Shape poems are poems that are written in the shape of their subject matter. Considering that this year’s theme is hope/tūmanako, this might be a perfect form to help you visualise what hope means for you. You might like to ask yourself, what would hope look like as an object, an animal, or an icon? If you can format it how wish it to appear in the book, then we can publish it, so let your imagination run wild. 🙂

If you’re thinking of creating a shape poem, a good book to check out is Apes to Zebras: an A to Z of shape poems:

Apes to zebras : an A-Z of shape poems / Brownlee, Liz
“This gorgeous collection of animal poems from Roger Stevens, Liz Brownlee and Sue Hardy-Dawson will entrance and delight in equal measure. Featuring a full alphabet of animals, birds, and insects, with the odd extinct or imaginary creature thrown in, these beautiful shape poems are a perfect way to introduce children to poetry. Some funny, some serious, there is something here for everyone.” (Catalogue)

This book has beautiful poems in the shape of different animals, with great examples of how creative wordplay can be in shape poem form.

Of course, there are alternative forms that also deserve your consideration!

A comprehensive guide to forms for kids would be A Kick in the Head created by Paul B. Janeczko and Chris Raschka.

A kick in the head

This book covers 29 different forms through dazzlingly illustrated poems. You’ll learn about everything from villanelles to double dactyls, as well as what makes their structure unique. The picture book style also makes this more enticing for younger readers.

Another unique poetry compilation is Skinny dip, edited by Susan Paris and Kate De Goldi.
Skinny dip : poetry
This compilation is written by NZ poets, and themed around school life, with each section being broken up into the four school terms. Although there aren’t as many forms covered as A Kick in the Head, the poems in this collection are absolutely delightful, and a prime example of how even the most mundane objects can become the subject of fun, quirky and even emotional poems.


Other starting points

Okay, so let’s say you’ve chosen a form, you have some ideas about the theme, but you’re not sure how to ACTUALLY put them on paper.

Poetry style inspiration

If you’re looking for inspiration, Out of Wonder is a beautiful celebration of poetry and poets to get your creative juices flowing.
Out of wonder : celebrating poets and poetry / Alexander, Kwame
“Newbery Medalist and a Caldecott Honoree offer a glorious, lyrical ode to poets who have sparked a sense of wonder. Out of gratitude for the poet’s art form, Newbery Award-winning author and poet Kwame Alexander, along with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth, present original poems that pay homage to twenty famed poets who have made the authors’ hearts sing and their minds wonder. Stunning mixed-media images by Ekua Holmes, winner of a Caldecott Honor and a John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award, complete the celebration and invite the reader to listen, wonder, and perhaps even pick up a pen.” (Catalogue)

Each poem is written in the style of a famous poet, highlighting their unique style or ideas that inform their work. As you’re going through this book you could ask yourself, what is different about this poem, compared to the others? What kind of describing words, rhyming words or phrasing was used? Why did I enjoy/not enjoy about how this poem was written? You may like to ask mum, dad or a trusted adult to read through a couple of the poems with you to see what you can find. It can be useful to think about the style, rather than the topic, when reading poetry for inspiration because what the poem is about can vary a lot. And as mentioned, even the most dull topics can be reinvented by good style!

On Tūmanako/Hope

If you are wanting more help in thinking about hope/tūmanako though, you should definitely check out The Book of Hopes, which is a compilation of small poems, illustrations, stories and non-fiction writing all about hope in its many forms.
The book of hopes
“In difficult times, what children really need is hope. And in that spirit, Katherine Rundell emailed some of the children’s writers and artists whose work she loved most. I asked them to write something very short, fiction or non-fiction, or draw something that would make the children reading it feel like possibility-ists: something that would make them laugh or wonder or snort or smile. This collection, packed with short stories, poems and pictures from the very best children’s authors and illustrators, aims to provide just that. Within its pages you’ll find animal friends from insects to elephants, high-flying grandmas, a homesick sprite, the tooth fairy, and even extra-terrestrial life.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Exercise based

Getting into the nuts and bolts of things, if you’re looking for practical, exercise based activities then look no further than Poetry Prompts by Joseph Coelho.

Poetry prompts : all sorts of ways to start a poem / Coelho, Joseph

This book walks you through 41 poetry prompts, from themes, to creative writing techniques, to exercises engaging your 5 senses. With every prompt there’s also a “poetry power up” option if you want to take the prompt even further! Look out for prompts like number 6, 16 and 20, which cover onomatopoeia, metaphors, and personification. These are tried and true writing techniques which all the best poets use, you may have even learnt these in school already! Overall, this book could be a great option if you’re not sure how to express an idea in your poem, or you need a little pizazz to shake up what you’ve already written.

Te Reo Māori

Finally, you may have noticed that we are accepting submissions in English and te reo Māori. If you’re considering writing in or incorporating te reo, Rhyme & reo: aeiou, could be a perfect companion to your poetry writing depending on your existing fluency. In this book, author Jessica Ngatai breaks down each of the vowel sounds in poetic form, making it easier to come up with your own reo rhymes, and learn some new kupu!

Rhyme & reo : aeiou : a fun way to learn Māori vowel sounds / Ngatai, Jessica
“This book is an educational resource to help teachers, parents, whānau and children build confidence to use and enjoy te reo. Illustrated and featuring quirky Kiwi poems, weaving reo through the English text, with explanatory notes on the pronunciation of the vowel sounds appearing on a side-bar on each page”–Publisher information. Includes notes for parents and teachers.” (Catalogue)

Other useful books

The books mentioned are by no means an exhaustive list, but hopefully they give you something to chew on. If all else fails, this Michael Rosen handbook is a great resource for any budding poet:What is poetry? : the essential guide to reading & writing poems / Rosen, Michael
“Over many years as a working poet, Michael Rosen has thought a great deal about what poems are, what they can do and the pleasure that comes from writing and reading poetry. In this invaluable handbook, he shares this knowledge and experience in book form for the very first time. Starting with a detailed analysis of a number of classic poems, he offers a real writer’s guide to writing and performing poems, as well as a wealth of technical information and tips. He then takes a fascinating look at a selection of his own poems and explains how and why he wrote them. Complete with an appendix of poets and useful websites, and beautifully illustrated by award-winning artist Jill Calder, this is the only guide to poetry children and teachers will ever need.” (Catalogue)

And if you’re looking for some other introductory poetry collections, check out these two below:

Beastly verse
“This is an anthology of 16 animal poems for children, illustrated by the graphic artist JooHee Yoon. Authors include well-known poets such as Lewis Carroll, D. H. Lawrence and Laura E. Richards.” (Adapted from catalogue)
A treasury of NZ poems for children
“Poems by all the big names in both children’s and adult writing, from Margaret Mahy and Hone Tuwhare to Denis Glover as well as some fresh new poets”–Publisher’s information.” (Catalogue)

Poetry need not be archaic, stiff and boring. If nothing else, we hope these recommendations and tips inspire you to experiment, play and explore with language! Have fun with your creations! We look forward to seeing your hope/tūmanako poems. 🙂