Beloved children’s author Joy Cowley shares The Power of Story


The 2018 New Zealand Book Council Lecture was delivered by author Joy Cowley at Te Papa yesterday evening.

In her engaging talk The Power of Story, Cowley reflected on a remarkable career and lifetime’s experience of inspiring children to read.

Recalling her own childhood reading journey, and that of her four children, she expressed her lifelong mission to inspire children, especially reluctant readers, to develop a love for books.

Her books, of which there are more than 600, are read in classrooms around the world and she has visited children, parents and teachers everywhere from Iceland to Brunei to share her stories and learn new ones.

“My heart remains with the young children who are struggling readers, the children for whom a book is a closed secret, the children who see other children in a book but never themselves,” Cowley said.

“As often as we open a book, we live new lives in new landscapes. This is what I want for every child.”

The Power of Story includes practical advice for anyone who works with children and a call to action for parents, teachers, publishers and writers everywhere, and especially in New Zealand.

Book Council CEO Jo Cribb says it is an honour to have Cowley deliver this year’s lecture.

“Joy is a national treasure and her messages for us as parents and the wider community are important ones.

“At the Book Council we are dedicated to ensuring children, especially boys, read for pleasure and we are working on a number of programmes to spread the joy of reading.”

The Power of Story can be downloaded in PDF format here. A recording will also soon be available.

The New Zealand Book Council Lecture has become a prominent part of the literary landscape in Aotearoa New Zealand. It provides an opportunity for one of our country’s leading writers to discuss an aspect of literature close to their heart.

Each year, the lecture is published as a book. These copies are distributed free of charge to Book Council members.

Joy Cowley is a prolific and much-celebrated writer of fiction for adults and children. She began her career writing short stories and novels before moving into the realm of children’s literature.

Her remarkable range of children’s books has often been illustrated by renowned artists. Cowley was awarded an OBE in 1992 and made a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to children’s literature in 2005. She received an Honorary Doctorate in Literature from Massey University in 1993 and was awarded a Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement for Fiction in 2010. In 2018, Cowley was made a member of the Order of New Zealand.

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.