Laurie Halse Anderson on ‘The Hard Stuff’

The Reading Matters conference is Australia’s leading youth literature conference. We host a multitude of youth literature writers and experts to share their knowledge and insight with our professionals. Over the next few months we’ll be sharing a range of content from the previous conference but first, here’s Laurie Halse Anderson’s fantastic keynote on The Hard Stuff: Courage and Real Conversations:

Registration for the 2017 Reading Matters conference is now open. Discover information on the amazing writers who will be speaking and the incredible early bird offer (closes 30 November.)

2016 Inky Awards Winners

bookmarksThe Centre for Youth Literature at State Library Victoria is proud to announce the winners the 2016 Inky Awards for young adult literature today, celebrating a decade of the national teen choice prize.

The Inky Awards were established in 2007 as Australia’s first, and still only, national teen choice awards for young adult literature. The Inky Awards have recognised the best and brightest in global youth literature from Melbourne’s own Simmone Howell, Randa Abdel-Fattah and Will Kostakis, to the international talents of John Green, Maggie Steifvater and Jenny Downham.

This year has seen many achievements;
• 50 % increase in applicants for the teen judge positions
• The launch of the Ambassador program in four schools across the country – Somerset College (Qld), Wilderness School (SA), Taylors Lakes Secondary College (VIC) and The King’s School (NSW).
• The distribution of 40k longlist bookmarks in over 150 bookstores, libraries and high schools nationally.
• Thousands of downloads of the resource toolkits
• Awards judges, past and present, presenting on stage at the Sydney and Melbourne Writers Festivals.
• The most number of votes in the Awards history –  an 18% growth on 2015.

But we know what you’re here for….. Read the rest of this entry »

2017 Inky Awards – Get involved!

inkyawards2016All about the annual awards for youth literature – as chosen by teens:

The Inky Awards recognise high-quality young adult literature, with the longlist and shortlist selected by young adults, and the winners voted for online by the teen readers of There are two awards: the Gold Inky Award for an Australian book, and the Silver Inky Award for an international book.

The Awards are named after Inky – the Inside a Dog mascot and all-round wonder-dog.

How to get involved:
* Consider becoming a 2017 Inky Awards Ambassador school. If you’re keen – get in touch with our team.
* Encourage your teens to apply to be a judge! Applications open in March 2017.
* Sign up for our monthly enewsletter to be the first to catch next year’s celebrated YA titles, submit judge applications, and access our free resources.

The 2017 Inky Awards calendar will be announced in the November enewsletter.



Comics 101: reading graphic narratives


Previously: Comics 101: a brief history

Diagram: Key: A (pink) – panel, B (lilac) – borderless panel, purple – gutters, green -tier

Comics are a series of panels that work together on the page. Sometimes they have frames or borders separating them but that’s not always true, it pays to look carefully at the pictures to get a sense of the style – artists may have unique ways of grouping and separating their images. Borders can be suggestive of what’s happening in the text – dream sequences might have wavy borders, while powerful scenes might break through the borders to demonstrate the force of the action.

The space between panels is known as a gutter. Comic experts know the significance of the gutters – those spaces are where the story’s time passes by. That little white space between pictures could be standing for seconds, years, even decades. As a reader you will need to look for clues in the image to be sure. Read the rest of this entry »

Comics 101: a brief history

yellowkidPreviously: The rise of comics and graphic novels

The first comics as we’d know them were published in newspapers in the late nineteenth century. They were normally single panel cartoons about politics and A-Listers of the day. ‘The Yellow Kid’, published in New York World in 1895, has been credited as establishing the forms and conventions of the comic strip as we’d recognise it today. It showed the adventures of a gang of kids growing up in the slums of New York City.

The popularity of comics boomed in the 1920s and 30s, with the market targeting the youth audience and anthologising collections such as The Dandy (UK), Beano (UK), The Adventures of Tintin (Belgium) and of course Superman (US) and other superhero narratives.

Comics were also hugely popular in Japan, where Osamu Tezuka rose to fame as ‘the God of Manga’. Tezuka is, among other things, responsible for the creation of popular characters Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion. These popular characters are examples of the intrinsic relationship between manga comics and anime films, with many Japanese artists working simultaneously in both forms. Manga itself demonstrates Japan’s long tradition of illustrative texts, with links to earlier forms such as Chōjū-jinbutsu-giga (a four panel style from the mid-Twelfth Century) and Kamishibai (translated to ‘paper drama’). Kamishibai was popular during the 1920s and looks very similar to comic strips, but stories were put onto cards and shown in sequence on a small wooden stage. The audience came to see and ‘read along’. Read the rest of this entry »

The rise of comics and graphic novels

kapowPreviously: Celebrating graphic novels (1/5)

Using pictures to tell stories is nothing new, but comics and graphic novels are only recently starting to receive the literary recognition they deserve. More than ever readers, teachers and librarians are recognising that comics and graphic novels offer a complex storytelling platform for a range of narratives and topics.

Comics and graphic novels have come a long way since the Thwack! Bam! Kapow! storylines of the early mass marketed superhero stories. In addition to the superhero canon, readers are now able to find a large number of classics and contemporary texts reimagined in graphic form and there are also a number of significant standalone contemporary comics that speak to themes such as diversity, sexuality, displacement and adolescence.

Will Eisner (the ‘father of the Graphic Novel’) described comics as sequential art. He was referring to the way that comics use a series of images to tell a story – words or not, it is the artwork that carries the story forward. Comics and graphic novels are not a genre of literature because they can be about anything, rather they are a form or medium for telling a story.

Whether simple action stories or more complex literary ideas, comics and graphic novels deserve a place in the classroom because of their ability to engage readers (particularly those who struggle with traditional texts) on multiple levels. Comics and graphic novels develop language, attention and understanding, as well as building the critical thinking and sequencing skills necessary for readers to ingest this type of work.


Next: Comics 101 – A Brief History

Celebrating Graphic Novels

It’s been a little while since free comic book day but that’s certainly no reason to stop celebrating comics and graphic novels!

So the Centre for Youth Literature team has put together a series of posts exploring the rise of comics and graphic novels, and outlining some strategies for incorporating these narratives into your classroom or library program. These posts will run twice a week, and you’ll be able to download the collection (along with additional reading, resources and activities) at the end. Also, if you’re one of the first to contact us in response to this post, we’ll send you a copy of ‘Raising a Reader: how comics and graphic novels can help your kids love to read’, a printed resource by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

To get us started, we asked the fantastic staff from Melbourne’s All Star Comics to put together a list of their top 10 comics for teens – Cazz was more than happy to oblige.



This One Summer
 – written by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki Read the rest of this entry »

Presenting the 2016 Inky Awards shortlist

The Inky Awards are for the best new young adult books, chosen by teens for teens.

The Centre for Youth Literature celebrates ten years of the Inky Awards with this extraordinary shortlist. Our fantastic team of teen panelists spent hours reading, discussing, and sometimes arguing for their favourite longlisted titles. The judges took their responsibilities very seriously, and it was great to see such a considered and diverse discussion about books. Their enthusiasm was infectious.

And now to the good stuff.

The 2016 Inky Awards Shortlist is…



The Inky Awards winning titles will be announced at the State Library Victoria on 4 October.

Follow @insideadog on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr or with the hashtag #InkyAwards.

The Centre welcomes Bec Anthony

bec and lha

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Rebecca Anthony who will be joining the team as the Centre for Youth Literature’s Learning Programs Officer. Bec will be responsible for the development and support of the State Library Victoria’s programming for engaging young people with books, stories and writing.

Bec brings to the team her extensive arts administration experience having worked on programming for Future Foundations, Melbourne Day, Melbourne Regatta and Roarhouse. Bec first joined the Library to work with the Centre’s team as the Events Officer for the 2015 Reading Matters overseeing conference logistics and the national touring program.  Earlier this year she programmed the successful Kids Big Book Spectacular which resulted in thousands of young people engaging with the Library and its collections.

Most recently she has worked in the Library’s Community Programs team providing administrative support across their considerable events and programs.

We look forward to welcoming her to the Centre for Youth Literature team full time when she starts on Monday, 15 August.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: classroom applications

ozJpIBL-bdo.showposter_hqPreviously: Adaptation (5/6)

Too often students find the classics unrelatable to their present lives.  The Lizzie Bennet Diaries provides a unique opportunity to explore adaption across mediums and time, as well as the opportunity to further understand the richness of effective transmedia storytelling.

Last year it was posited that Jane Austen and the events of Pride and Prejudice depict the author as an unacknowledged founder of game theory so manipulative is she in her characters’ interactions, pairing and development.  This can account for the many ways in which this one book has been successfully adapted in so many forms.

However, the Lizzie Bennet Diaries brings Pride and Prejudice into the here and now in a way where marriage proposals take a back seat to career opportunity, and sisterhood is prioritised over romance.

But how might this be integrated into the classroom?

  • Contrast the depiction of Lydia Bennet in the original text, Lizzie Bennet Diaries and The Lydia Bennet video channel. In the expansion of this character, how has the audience relationship to her altered?
  • Explore the role transmedia has played in the growth of many secondary characters and the world of Pride and Prejudice.
  • The video series depicts Lizzie’s perspective throughout with characters being featured as those aware of the camera, and those that are not. Contrast the ways in which Lizzie’s prejudice and Darcy’s pride are evidenced.
  • Explore the use of costume theatre and how unseen characters are depicted in the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. As a meta-activity, have students adapt a scene from the series into a costume theatre interpretation.
  • Both the original text and the video series begin with “It is a truth universally acknowledged…” how does each medium establish tone with this beginning?
  • Students can adapt a classic text into a similar blog structure (or transmedia alternatives), translating other literary figures into contemporary ones.
  • Contrast an important event of Pride and Prejudice across multiple adaptions e.g. Lizzie and Darcy’s introduction, Collins’ proposal, or Darcy’s letter.

An exciting by-product of the video series was the creative exploration enjoyed by its viewers, with an outpouring of user generated content.  The breadth of the audience driven art, discussions and interests that have derived from watching this series could not have been expected from the creators.

Some examples;

  • The actress who plays Jane often styles her hair using ideas from the World War 2 era, which prompted questions of how to replicate this.  Video tutorials were posted from Jane on Pinterest and now many fans are recreating elaborate hair styles like Victory rolls and milk maid braids.
  • Some viewers edited the video series into the Dizzie Diaries, an exploration of the relationship twists and turns between Lizzie and Darcy.
  • Gifs were created depicting story parallels, repetitions and trajectories. For example, Darcy’s use of ‘illuminating’ or Lydia and Lizzie’s discussion of worth.

Fan responses such as these create the perfect opportunity for students to imagine their own creative response to the series.  The Lizzie Bennet Diaries has enabled many individuals to experience the Bennet family through new, or fresh eyes – use this opportunity to generate discussion, prompt predictions and draw upon the reimaged aspects.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a standout addition to the long list of adaptions of Jane Austen’s work. While it started out small, the creators use of their existing audiences, strong vision, crafty use of multi-platforms, a tried and tested story structure and a talented cast to engage and inspire a brand new audience.

The best news?  They’ve done it all over again.  Emma Approved, an adaptation of Austen’s Emma ran from October 2013 to August 2014 and can be found in full on YouTube.
Thank you for reading our The Lizzie Bennet Diaries series – you can find the previous posts here: