Libraries, Literacy & You – Seminar Day

ReaLM presents our annual ‘Libraries, Literacy and You’ Day.

We are back for our 12th year and we hope you are as excited as we are to bring you this year’s event. Join us for a learning filled day of six sessions with engaging and expert speakers to support you and your library.

When: Friday 18th June 8am-5pm
Where: Conference Room, Sports and Rugby Institute, Massey University, Palmerston North
Costs: $135pp (Early-bird special: $100pp – Register before 5pm Friday 21st May)

Find out more information and register here

Here are this year’s line up of confirmed speakers (with more announcements to come…):

  • Melinda Szymanik – Award winning author of picture books, short stories and novels for children and young adults.

Melinda writes for children and young adults. She has been a finalist for a number of awards, and five of her titles are Storylines Notable Books. Her picture book, The Were-Nana, won the New Zealand Post Children’s Choice Award in 2009, and was shortlisted for the 2010 Sakura Medal. Melinda’s novel, A Winters Day in 1939, won Librarian’s Choice at the 2014 LIANZA awards and her picture book Fuzzy Doodle, was a 2017 White Raven Selection. She has studied both adult’s and children’s literature at University, is a visiting writer in schools, and teaches creative writing workshops for adults and children.

Session: Writers for young people: jugglers or magicians?In this talk Melinda discusses her own journey to writing for children and young adults, including the fundamental contradiction of looking backwards to her own youth for insights and inspiration, while looking forward to the youth of today and tomorrow to know their fears and concerns. How do writers juggle messages of hope, with an examination of the issues and challenges relevant to contemporary teens, writing stories that allow young readers to simultaneously ‘escape,’ while providing them with the tools for navigating their future adulthood?

  • Sharon Holt – Author and a passionate advocator of Te Reo

Sharon decided on a career as a children’s author when she was seven. Unfortunately, life intervened, and one day there were 40 candles on her birthday cake! With no time to lose, Sharon started writing stories, plays and poems for Learning Media’s School Journals and Ready to Read series. The desire to see her books in libraries and book shops led to success with Walker Books, Allen & Unwin and Scholastic. For the last eight years, Sharon has focused on writing her award winning series of Te Reo Singalong books. She also has a passion for correct pronunciation of Māori place names, birds and trees, which she teaches through her Te Reo Māori Challenge facebook page. You can find Te Reo Singalong books at

Session: How te reo Māori changed my life. I first met te reo Māori in 2002. It was love at first sight. Never mind that I was happily married and already in my 40s. This new relationship was true love, the kind where you feel comfortable, safe, understood, inspired to be your best self, and eager for more. And it’s a relationship that’s stood the test of time. I’m not saying it’s easy. Like all relationships, we’ve had our rocky patches. For a few years we didn’t talk much. But these days, we’ve reached our “happy place”. I look forward to showing you how you can also have a happy and fulfilling relationship with te reo Māori.

  • Adele Broadbent – Author and self confessed book nut

Adele is the author of five novels for middle grade readers and several educational titles in the US and Australia. Her latest novel – IF ONLY, is for young teens – A tale of loyalty, first love, white lies and whales – all wrapped up in a guilty secret.

Adele’s passion is children’s books and she is a self-confessed book nut. She loves collecting outstanding and beautiful children’s books, and feels lucky to be in her dream job as a children’s bookseller at the award winning Wardini Books in Napier.

When Adele isn’t reading or writing or talking about books at Wardinis, she is adding reviews to her children’s and teen’s book review site –

Session: When Adele was working as a Children’s Librarian at the public library, she would often see children of all ages trailing along the shelves, struggling to choose among the plethora of books on display. An avid reader of young fiction, she loved to help but saw the need for somewhere the readers could choose for themselves. Beginning with hundreds of her own reviews – What Book Next was born.
Adele will be discussing her review site, its conception and uses, along with her novels for tweens and her new novel IF ONLY for teen readers.

  • Sandra Morris – Award-winning illustrator, botanical artist and a keen nature journaller.

Sandra Morris is a Whanganui based author and illustrator of award winning children’s natural history books as well as a botanical artist and a keen nature journaler.

She gained her MFA at Elam School of Fine Arts (Auckland ) in 1990 and in 1995 attended the University of Newcastle in Australia to complete a Post graduate diploma in Plant and Wildlife Illustration.

After many years working in educational publishing and tutoring at Massey School of Design in Albany, Sandra now directs the Sandra Morris Illustration Agency. She is a keen supporter of community education having taught for many years at Auckland University Continuing Education, Selwyn Community Education in Auckland and Community education Whanganui.
In 2013 Sandra was resident artist for 8 weeks at Auckland Botanic Gardens, ending with a 2 week exhibition.
Sandra is a member of the Botanical Art Society of NZ and the Botanical Art Society of America.
Sandra has taught many workshops including; Children’s Book Illustration, Nature Journaling, Botanical Drawing and Painting, for both children and for adults.

Instagram: @sandramorrisart
FB: @SandraMorrisArtist

Session: Life as a nature enthusiast

Sandra looks back on what led her into writing natural history books for children,- her links with School Publications, the Wildlife Service, bird watching and her ongoing passion for nature journaling. How all these things have worked together to shape the way she looks at the world and why she feels the need to encourage young people to observe and respect the intricacies of the natural world they are part of.