Ignition Children's Book Festival, Dunedin 8th-13th October 2020 by Kay Mercer

Countdown to Ignition Kids Book Festival

A new festival with a focus on raising children’s literacy levels launches in Dunedin in November – the only book festival in the South Island dedicated to children’s books.

The Festival is founded on a partnership of two organisations with a passion for improving kids’ reading skills and fostering the love of books from an early age: University Book Shop Otago and Dunedin Public Libraries.

University Book Shop's General Manager, Phillippa Duffy is excited to have a festival for children’s literature hosted in Dunedin: “What could be more appropriate for a UNESCO City of Literature than to hold a festival that seeks to improve literacy levels in this country and celebrate New Zealand children’s authors?” she asks. Dunedin Public Library Events Coordinator, Kay Mercer, agrees with this sentiment, adding: “Good readers start in the womb, and the ability to read is a fundamental human right. Ignition Kids is more than a festival; it is a melting pot of ideas and strategies for parents, educators, publishers, writers for children and for children themselves to find a pathway to knowledge and the joy of reading.”

The idea of a children’s book festival was hatched in 2017, after the success of “Ink Spots and Twisty Plots”, a children’s book day held at Dunedin City Library in partnership with University Book Shop. “We were approached afterwards by a number of parents and teachers who had brought their families to Ink Spots, asking if we would repeat the event,” says Mrs Mercer. Ms Duffy adds, “We both recognised that there was a need for something focused solely on children’s books, and that there was a lot of discussion in the education sector, and separately among children’s writers and publishers, about how to improve and maintain reading levels. Given our common goals, it was natural for the Book Shop and the Library to collaborate on a project where these discussions could be brought together as a forum for parents to share in the process.”

The Festival takes place over three days on the first weekend of November at various locations around Dunedin. With events for school students, “Bedtime Capers” for little ones at the University Book Shop, a book-themed family movie screening at Dunedin Public Art Gallery, creative crafts, and a Booklover's Dinner for adults at the University Staff Club, the Festival promises “something for everyone”. Book Day at City Library on Saturday 3rd November will present an exciting mix of stories, entertainment and fun for families, as well as a focus panel discussion for parents, teachers, writers, publishers and librarians, indeed anyone who share the desire to improve literacy outcomes for the children of New Zealand.

Plans for the Festival are moving apace, and the organisers have confirmed guest appearances by TV journalist and writer Miriama Kamo, writer and steampunk magician Gareth Ward, natural history writer Raymond Huber, 2018 Book Awards Winner Pauline Vaeluaga Smith, and Herbert author/illustrator Robyn Belton. Author/Illustrator David Elliot will be launching his new book Oink!, alongside Go Girls author Barbara Else and St Clair Splash’s Rachel McCoubrey

The countdown to Ignition begins!

Visit any Dunedin Public Library or the University Book Shop to pick up a copy of the full Festival programme, or download it from the link below. Follow the Ignition Kids Facebook page for latest updates and to join the NZ children’s literacy discussion.

Ignition Kids Book Festival Friday 2nd November – Sunday 4th November
Various Dunedin City Locations – see Festival Programme for full details