Where are the writers for children?

Adelaide Writers’ Week 2010

Last week I attended three days of the week long Adelaide Writers Week. This biennial event is an integral part of the Adelaide Festival of Arts here in South Australia, one of the leading such festivals of its kind in the world. The list of guest speakers is often a who’s who of the writing world. This time was no exception and the impressive parade of talented writers throughout the week was very inspiring. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

But where were the writers for children?

They were conspicuous by their almost total absence.


Only Markus Zusak could be said to be a writer for children – a debatable point as his audience is best described as Young Adult.

Australia has an impressive number of world class writers for children. They lead the world in their chosen field. They are acknowledged around the globe for their talent and many outsell their adult counterparts. Why, then are they totally ignored festival after festival?

Is this a case of literary snobbery on the part of the organising committee? Or ignorance?

Adelaide Writers' Week 2010

Adelaide Writers' Week 2010


4 Responses to “Where are the writers for children?”

  1. Hi Trevor, this seems to come up every festival. I found it interesting that Shaun Tan won two awards in 2010 Adelaide Festival awards for literature & you still couldn’t buy his work in Writers Week book tent.

  2. abfabvet says:

    I agree, Trevor. Don’t these people know that writing a kids book is harder than writing for adults? It also qualifies as cross cultural commmunication!

    Having said that I only got to one day of Writers’ week. Was very impressed with Markus Zuzak. I like how he said that writing was HARD. A lot of successful people make it sound easy and I get discouraged. Zuzak talked about how he would much rather be out surfing on many a day on which he had to write. I could relate to the sentiment!

  3. Trevor says:

    Welcome to my blog Katrina, and thanks for leaving some comments. Yes – I know it is a topic that comes up every festival and nothing seems to change. The same could be said about our local stable of excellent writers – though, to be fair, there seemed to be a few more Australian writers around this time. I guess the emphasis still needs to be on the well known and prominent international speakers – which is what make the week so memorable. Local talents are well represented in the minor writers’ weeks, seminars and workshops held both in Adelaide and interstate.

  4. Trevor says:

    Thanks for your comments as well Sue. Unfortunately I didn’t get to hear Zusak so thanks for your mini review of what he said. Did you take notes of his talk? You could write a “guest post” here if you want to. Just email it to me in a Word document (100-400 words)

    Over the coming days here on this blog I have scheduled more discussions and reviews of some of the other writers I heard, complete with photos of them. Managed also to get several books signed as well. I wasn’t going to spend any more on books at this stage but…

    Hope your writing is going well. See you on Facebook!!