Welcome

Connecting New Zealand authors and illustrators with New Zealand schools

WHAT ARE WE?

​Inspired by the successful BookPenPals project in the United Kingdom and recently-launched Author Pen Pals in Australia, Kiwi Author Pen Pals is a brand-new initiative created in 2023 to connect New Zealand authors and illustrators with New Zealand schools.

We want to spread the love of literacy to all schools throughout the entire motu, we want to encourage Kiwi kids to share their stories, and we want to promote our homegrown talent!

We particularly want to support those schools that rarely have the opportunity to host or meet authors due to a lack of funds or location.

During this initial set-up phase, Kiwi Author Pen Pals is a free, volunteer-run programme.


HOW DOES IT WORK?

It’s simple and fun! 

Authors and illustrators pair up with a class or classes for the school year and commit to sending at least four postcards for terms two and three. At the end of the school year, the author or illustrator can retire from the programme or switch to a new school.

Classes pair up with one author or illustrator for the school year and commit to replying to them at least twice during terms two and three.

We recommend authors and illustrators send a preliminary email to their class teacher or librarian, before term two commences, to find out upcoming projects or interests in the class which can help make their communications more relevant and engaging for the students.

Of course, more letters and postcards and other correspondence can be exchanged. There is no limit! We just want you to have fun and make exciting connections. 

This year, due to starting partway through the year, we’re running the project just for Term 3.

Our registrations are now closed for classes looking to join in this year. We’ve had a great deal of interest from primary teachers which is fantastic! We have done our very best to match every class with an author or illustrator but regrettably have more classes than authors/illustrators at this stage.

Next year, in 2024, Kiwi Author Pen Pals will run for Terms 2 & 3, with registrations in Term 1.


WHO CAN JOIN?

Kiwi authors and illustrators
If you’re a published author or illustrator (indie or trad) creating incredible books for primary and intermediate school aged children, then you’re eligible to join. This initiative is about celebrating the love of literacy and encouraging children to read, write, draw, and share the stories they love with others. If you share this vision, please complete the sign-up form.

New Zealand primary schools
If you’re a teacher or teacher-librarian working in a primary school in Aotearoa and think your class or classes in Years 0 to 8 would benefit from becoming pen pals, we’d love to hear from you for next year.

Follow Kiwi Author Pen Pals on Facebook to make sure you see our updates about how the first year of the programme goes and to hear about registrations for next year.


TELL ME MORE!

Sure! What you chat about with your pen pals is up to you, but we suggest it be about books and reading since that’s the goal of this initiative. 

Authors and illustrators can talk about a favourite book in each postcard or recommend age-appropriate books for the class to consider. Children can respond by talking about their favourite books too. 

Authors and illustrators can offer writing and drawing prompts; or share fun stories that might have happened to them and encourage children to tell theirs; or talk about their creative process or best places to write and invite the children to describe or draw theirs. 

There are so many ideas and avenues to explore with your pen pals!


ARE THERE ANY RULES?

Yes, but only a few. Once pen pal pairings are made, we don’t vet the correspondence exchanged. We trust that every person involved understands the privileged situation they are in and respects their audience.

This initiative is for New Zealand primary and intermediate school children only, so please ensure the content of your correspondence is age appropriate. That means no profanity, no recommendations of books which are considered offensive or for older readers. 

​In your correspondence, please always consider the different backgrounds and cultures, religions and experiences of your pen pals. This initiative is intended to be considerate and inclusive of all communities, races, genders, and disabilities. Every child deserves and needs to be represented and included. 

Please read the notes for participants.


PRIVACY

We will never share pen pal details with an outside party.

Authors and illustrators: Please only supply details (such as your name, email address, website, etc.) that you are comfortable for us to keep on file and use to contact you with Kiwi Author Pen Pal updates. Please also consider the postal address you will share with your pen pal school. A P O Box is ideal.

Schools: Please only supply publicly-available details about your school, class and teaching staff that can be shared with your author or illustrator pen pal. 


GETTING STARTED

​This is our first year and we are sure there will be a few hiccups along the way. We ask, please, that you be patient and bear with us, but to also feel 100% free to contact us with your concerns, your thoughts and ideas, and your suggestions for improvement. It is imperative that we put the children first, always, and keep them at the forefront of our minds when making decisions. 

IMPORTANT DATES FOR 2023

23 June – sign-ups close to participate this year

Last week in June – match-ups done and everyone advised of their pen pals

17 July – Term 3 starts and authors/illustrators send their first letter or postcard to their student pen pals.


CONTACT

All questions and queries to Kiwi author Kate B. Gordon via email kate@kiwikidsbookstore.nz


OUR SUPPORTERS

Kiwi Author Pen Pals is proudly supported by the Kiwi Kids’ Bookstore, an online store devoted to books by New Zealand authors and illustrators for kids and teens.
https://kiwikidsbooks.nz/