Rebirth of programme aims to grow next generation of literary critics

By Emma Caradus | Posted: Sunday August 2, 2020

A programme dedicated to literary reviews for and by young people has been adopted by Read NZ Te Pou Muramura (formerly NZ Book Council).

Hooked on NZ Books He Ao Ano matches young readers with New Zealand-authored books and publishes their reviews. It aims to grow the next generation of critics and build an extensive online resource of writing about YA books, by young people themselves.

Established around four years ago by Peppercorn Press, the writers and editors of the NZ Review of Books journal, Hooked on NZ Books is already a useful archive of existing reviews, author interviews and other writing resources for younger readers.

When NZ Review of Books ceased publication in late 2019, Peppercorn Press invited Read NZ to adopt the work.

Read NZ CEO Juliet Blyth says the purpose of the Hooked on NZ Books is to grow the audience for home-grown literature, to provide another space for young writers to be published, and to nurture the next generation of critical readers in Aotearoa.

“Anyone can say that they loved or loathed a book, but it’s much harder to say why. Reviewing is important because well-argued reviews can influence what gets published and what gets read,” she says.

“We’re thrilled to be continuing the good work of Hooked on NZ Books and think the programme complements our existing offerings, such as Writers in Schools, beautifully.”

Read NZ is now looking for readers and writers aged around 11-19 to participate. Interested reviewers, and their teachers and parents can sign up on the Hooked on Books website to be added to the database.

Each completed review will be published on Hooked on NZ Books He Ao Ano. The best review each month will also be published on Read NZ’s website and promoted through social media channels. The organisation also plans to offer review-writing workshops around the country as part of its Writers in Schools programme.

Read NZ Te Pou Muramura is grateful to the Mātātuhi Foundation for a grant to help fund this work.

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