Perth's Young People of Letters Shine

An early introduction to writing and publishing books.
May 22, 2024
An introduction to what it takes to get a book from an idea to the shelf.

At East Victoria Park Primary School, it’s the children who are the authors and publishers as they embark on an innovative classroom challenge that sees them producing and launching their own books.

Conceived by award-winning junior fiction author Kristy Nita Brown, the Book Builders Challenge offers students in Years 4, 5 and 6 an exciting opportunity to create their own storybooks.

“I created the Book Builders Challenge to bridge the gap between the classroom and the real-world of independent publishing,” says Kristy. “The Challenge sees children attend 22 comprehensive workshops led by book experts, where students learn the facets of narrative writing, illustrating, editing, printing, publishing and distribution, all while creating their own books.”

Designed with alignment to the WA curriculum, the Book Builders Challenge offers a dynamic, multifaceted approach by integrating English, Arts, Maths and Technologies. Students have direct engagement with professional authors, illustrators, and independent publishers, developing an understanding of all stages of the publishing process and acquiring practical, real-world skills to distribute their stories effectively.

Throughout Semester One of this year, students at East Victoria Park Primary School are led by Kristy and her team as they hone their creative writing, storytelling, layout, and illustration skills. From conceptualisation to publication, students learn the art of editing, crafting engaging blurbs, promoting their works, and entering writing competitions.

Joining Kristy in leading the workshops are renowned authors and illustrators Sean E Avery (winner, 2023 Children’s Book Council of Australia Shadow Judge’s Picture Book of the Year and the 2023 West Australian Young Readers’ Book Award Picture Book of the Year), Kathryn Lefroy (shortlisted, 2020 Premier’s Prize for Children’s Book of the Year), Sasha Wasley (shortlisted, 2024 Premier’s Prize for Children’s Book of the Year), Aśka (nominated, 2022 Comic Arts Awards of Australia and 2022 ALIA Graphic Novel of the Year, and listed, 2021 ALIA Graphic Novel Notable List) and Kylie Howarth (shortlisted, 2014 & 2019 Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards, and shortlisted, 2020 & 2024 West Australian Young Readers' Book Award).

All participants in the Book Builders Challenge will have their books evaluated by industry heavyweights Nat Amoore, James Foley, and Kylie Howarth, who will select the winner and a handful of runners-up. The winning entry will receive a professional print run, with proceeds from book sales benefiting the East Victoria Park Primary Schools Parents and Citizens' Association. Additionally, selected books will be submitted to the Children's Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Make Your Own Story Book Competition.

Kristy Nita Brown, an emerging talent in junior fiction, has garnered attention for her independently published works. Her debut title, Looking for Lily, was shortlisted in the 2023 West Australian Young Readers’ Book Award and won second place in the 2022 Children and Young Adult Aspiring Authors Competition in the chapter book category. Her subsequent work, Mavey and Beth’s Double Act: Where’s My Whistle? won a place in the 2023 edition of the same competition. Beyond her writing, Kristy is a seasoned teaching artist, creative, and TAFE lecturer, known for conducting engaging writing and filmmaking workshops in libraries and schools.

As the driving force behind this program, Kristy aims to ignite a lifelong passion for reading and writing in these students while providing them with a platform to shine. “My goal is for children learn the intricacies of bringing a book to market, with some serious fun along the way. The Book Builders Challenge is a journey from idea to bookshelf,” she says.

East Victoria Park Primary School principal Kim Knowles says, “Even those initially hesitant to participate have been inspired to unleash their creativity, with both reluctant illustrators and writers eagerly putting their ideas onto paper.”

To celebrate their hard work, a student-led book launch will take place at the Town of Victoria Park Library on Monday, July 29th, providing an opportunity for the community to purchase copies of the winning book and explore other student creations.

Following a successful pilot, plans are underway to expand the Book Builders Challenge to more schools in 2025.