There are many opportunities for young folk in the city to engage in some literary bliss. Dunedin was the first city in New Zealand to open a Library especially for children and today, there still exists many cultural activities tailored to delight and incite. From birth right through to the teen years and beyond, Dunedin has an impressive range of events and activities that will inspire a lifelong love of learning, reading and writing. Wonderful public spaces, such as the University Book Shop’s Children’s Room, are open for business, with a relaxed family friendly vibe.
Books for Babies
Books for Babies is an initiative that highlights the importance of reading to babies. For over a decade, Dunedin Public Libraries has joined forces with Dunedin Public Hospital to provide a Books for Babies pack for every child lucky enough to be born in our fair city. This wonderful initiative is completely free of charge, and reflects our belief in introducing babies to books at an early age. Each pack contains a distinctive baby picture book, kindly donated by the University Bookshop, along with an information booklet for mother and baby. In addition to advice on hot topics such as modern cloth nappies, the booklet contains a space to record your child’s favourite stories and rhymes, free Library vouchers and a complimentary mother and child swim thanks to Moana Pool.
The Children's Room and Bookshop
At the back of the University Book Shop all sorts of magic has been happening! The University Book Shop has expanded the children’s section so children of all ages can re-discover a love of reading or extend the passion for books they already have. The Children's Room is a must-visit for children and families. Why not time your visit so the little one can also enjoy a live storytime session - every Friday and Saturday at 10:30am.
Ignition Kids Book Festival
Fire up your imagination at the only festival in the South Island dedicated exclusively to children's books!
Bring the family to Dunedin City and enjoy three days of stories, magic, crafts, films and fun with some very special guest aurhors and illustrators.
Presented by Ignition Kids Children's Book Festival, a partnership with University Book Shop Otago and Dunedin Public Libraries.
New Zealand Young Writers Festival
As social as it is serious, the NZYWF is a great opportunity to connect with like-minded literary types, through a mix of workshops, discussions, performances and parties.
Whether your literary idols include Eleanor Catton, Nicky Hager, or Hone Kouka, this is a chance to think about writing in all its forms, now and into the future.
All events are free, so all you need to is get here, thanks to the generous support of Creative New Zealand, the Otago Community Trust, and the Dunedin City Council.
Robbie Burns Poetry Competition
The Robert Burns Poetry Competition is a collaboration between the Dunedin Public Libraries and The Dunedin Burns Club. Entrants are encouraged to write a poem in English or Scots, inspired by the life or works of Robert Burns and opportunities exist for entries under three categories; the young poet, the unpublished poet and published poets. Young poets must be aged between 5 and 17 years of age inclusive at the time of entry. Entries are judged by associates of the Robert Burns Fellowship and the winners are announced and presented with prizes on Robert Burns' birthday, 25 January.
What must it feel like to surround yourself with a collection of top notch picture books and to balance oneself on the branch of a tree with an owl beside you? This is what a little person can encounter in the Storypit at the City Library! A colourful carpet in the Storypit is an artwork itself and is also where live storytelling sessions take place on a weekly basis during term time. Pop on in to see for yourself and give your child an experience they will carry with them for the rest of their life.
Professional storyteller Kaitrin McMillan, runs a Storytelling Adventure time at subscribing preschools in Dunedin. Kaitrin helps children let their imaginations run wild by introducing them to a world of telling tales, a live literary extravaganza. Katrin offers a repeat free storytelling session in the public library nearest the centre, to reinforce and nurture a love of books and stories. An initiative of the Dunedin Public Libraries, this is a popular and well worthwhile experience for the little ones.
Children just love to hear stories and there is no better way to hear them than at the many different free live sessions around the city. Every week our local storytellers spin a yarn on different themes sure to inspire and delight children of all ages. The University Book Shop has an open invitation to rediscover the magic in their new Children’s Room, the Dunedin Botanic Garden has begun telling tales, and Toitu Otago Settlers Museum reveals a museum full of stories and song. Preschool storytimes are also on offer weekly at the many public libraries, with the added bonus of a professional storyteller featuring at the City Library “Once Upon a Sunday”. Storytelling is a great way to capture a child’s imagination and harness creativity, while enhancing a child’s listening skills. Hip ray for stories!
Summer Reading Programme
Dunedin Public Libraries runs a hugely popular Summer Reading Programme during the summer school holidays, and every child who joins in the challenge receives a fun-filled booklet, full of supportive ideas and activities, book lists and a diary to record and rate their progress. Every child who reaches their reading target is rewarded at the end of the summer; and if they exceed their target before the holiday’s end, they can simply come back in and set their goal a little higher! Remember, you can travel anywhere, any time with the power of books! Where will books take you this summer?
Dunedin Public Libraries offers youth friendly multi purpose public spaces in their City and Mosgiel Libraries. Initially an experimental project to encourage teenagers to use the Library, the well known “Teen Space” has stood the test of time and is a popular space for youth of the city to read, relax, socialise, run events and basically do a lot of cool stuff! In the City Library, the Teen Space does not only house the latest books and music, the flexibility of the space allows it to be used as a performance area, as well as an exhibition gallery for artwork. It has also become a regular venue for events, musicians, comic artists and film screenings. The Mosgiel Library’s Teen Space, is smaller yet similar to the area at the City Library, featuring comfortable retro furniture, original art, free access to the internet and the latest books, magazines and graphic novels.
Writers in Schools
The New Zealand Book Council's Writers in Schools programme sends top Kiwi writers and illustrators into schools all over New Zealand, with the support of Creative New Zealand, to inspire and encourage young readers. Many Dunedin schools are a member of the NZBC and local children benefit greatly from these inspiring sessions. Since 1974, this worthwhile initiative has encouraged the imagination and writing skills in children across the country. Find out how the programme works, and what your school needs to do to prepare for an author visit.