The Book and Beyond: A guide for exploring children’s and YA literature

The Book and Beyond guide is a tool developed to help teachers of all subjects and librarians facilitate discussions with and among students, and with colleagues, about children’s and young adult (YA) literature — picture books, graphic novels, narrative non-fiction, junior, and young adult fiction.

Children’s and young adult literature has the power to excite and motivate children and young adults to become life-long readers. Reading is a wonderful way to develop imagination and empathy, and to increase curiosity and an understanding of self, the world, and the complexities of the human experience.

Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift.
— Kate DiCamillo
Fantasy graphic of a girl holding an umbrella walking through a picture book
Photo by darkmoon1968. Pixabay. License to use.

The Book and Beyond guides

The questions in The Book and Beyond educator and student guides are designed as prompts, inviting readers to explore, reflect on, and discuss elements of a book — the cover, design, illustrations, language, genre and format, setting, theme — and how they add to understanding and enjoyment. The questions and response activities provided are not intended as a checklist to be completed, but are suggestions — a menu of possible approaches to select from.

We have partnered with the Auckland Writers Festival and completed some educator guides as examples to help teachers (from across the curriculum) and librarians to see how responses to the guide might look. The guides are based on works from a selection of writers attending the Auckland Writers Festival Schools Programme. The guides can be downloaded to explore books prior to, during, or following the festival, which runs from 14 to 16 May 2019.

Guides for educators and students

The Book and Beyond: An educator’s guide contains a collection of powerful, relevant, and critical prompts for approaching books and book chats, helping teachers and librarians:

  • explore children's and young adult literature and the reading experience
  • captivate and develop student imagination, spark curiosity and inquiry
  • increase student understanding of the world and the human experience
  • create a personal connection with a book — the story and the physical object
  • engage students with reading and writing.

The Book and Beyond: An educator’s guide (pdf, 142KB)

The Book and Beyond: A student’s guide (pdf, 136KB) is similar to the educator’s guide but tailored for students' use.

Blank planning guide

The blank planning guides provide spaces for thoughts and questions about a specific book including:

  • its form and content
  • inquiry into the book
  • links to The New Zealand Curriculum.

Educator’s blank guide (pdf, 110KB)

Student’s blank guide (pdf, 94.9KB)

Auckland Writers Festival exemplars

The exemplars, based on books written by authors attending the 2019 Auckland Writers Festival Schools Programme, have been developed to show you how you might use the guide to explore a book.

For those who are planning visits to the festival, The Book and Beyond exemplars provide:

  • a valuable introduction/way into the writers appearing in May
  • a way of engaging students/teachers with the writers
  • a tool to review or revisit the books
  • a tool to provoke further inquiry and/or activities.

If you're unable to visit the festival, use the guides to spark further reading and enjoyment in book clubs, literature circles and reading groups, in and out of the classroom, in the library, and across curriculum contexts.

The aim is not to ‘kill’ the book by 'analysing the life out of it', but to enthuse and engage your students with reading, ensuring they have not just the skill to read, but the will to read.

Mr Tiger, Betsy and the Blue Moon (pdf, 242KB) by Sally Gardner (junior fiction)

Vasilisa the Brave (pdf, 285KB) — from Giants, Trolls, Witches, Beasts: Ten Tales from the Deep, Dark Woods by Craig Phillips (upper primary/intermediate fiction)

How to Bee (pdf, 264KB) by Bren MacDibble (intermediate fiction)

Dawn Raid (pdf, 235KB) by Pauline (Vaeluaga) Smith (intermediate fiction)

In the Dark Spaces (pdf, 282KB) by Cally Black (YA fiction)

Piecing Me Together (pdf, 261KB) by Renee Watson (YA fiction).

Find out more

Auckland Writers Festival Schools Programme

Children's and youth literature — information including strategies to evaluate, use, and promote books to encourage students to read for pleasure.

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