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Story Hunter

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Exploring Big Ideas With Young Writers

Our mission is to inspire the next generation of writers and equip them with the skills to tell their stories. An initiative of the Newcastle Writers Festival, Story Hunter works in partnership with schools across the Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Hunter regions to develop the creativity and storytelling skills of students in Stages 2 and 3. Our team of dedicated local writers (the Story Hunter Guides) use a combination of drama, play, and collaborative techniques to engage kids and help them discover a love of writing.

We are committed to creating and maintaining an environment that promotes the safety and empowerment of all children. Guided by the Child Safe Standards, all Story Hunter staff follow a Code of Conduct that actively promotes respect, inclusion, privacy and integrity. Contact us for a copy of our Code of Conduct and Child Safe Policy.

Students from Bellbird PS participating in Story Hunter workshop.
Credit: Liam Driver.
A young student fills in a worksheet

Support Us

Story Hunter is passionate about helping young people unlock their creative potential, no matter who they are or where they live. We would love to reach more schools in disadvantaged areas and regions that have limited access to professional writers, festivals, and school incursion programs. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support the work of Story Hunter.  

Donate Now >

Students from Bellbird PS participating in Story Hunter workshop.
Credit: Liam Driver.

2024 Workshops

Bookings are now open!

We offer 90-120 minute workshops for groups of 20-70 students at a time, in your school classrooms, library or hall. Our passionate team of writers have worked together to create an offering of curriculum-aligned workshops that are fun, collaborative and practical. Students can build their skills in one or more of the following areas: characterisation, plot development, poetry, editing, or illustration. We also offer a full-day masterclass that may be suited to especially enthusiastic writers and/or high potential gifted education programs.

Book Now >

 

Our first student publication Paperback book 'Marvellous Birds and Curious Creatures'

Publication

We are excited to present ‘Marvellous Birds and Curious Creatures’, an anthology of short stories from the inaugural year of our program. Thirty students in grades 4-6 from across the Hunter region contributed their work, telling tales of adventurous birds and animals. High-quality paperback books are available for purchase for $10 each plus postage, please contact us to order your copies!

FAQ

 

  • What ages do you work with?

    Our current programs are designed for Stage 2 and 3 students, aged 8-12. Access to the creative arts, particularly writing, in children under 12 significantly increases their communication skills, social connectedness, creativity and empathy, among an array of other learning, social and emotional benefits. We are keen to adapt and expand the program for Stage 4 classes in future. For inquiries about trialling a Story Hunter workshop in your high school, please email us.

     

  • Can you come to my child's school?

    We currently offer our programs to all schools with students in Stages 2 and 3 (grades 4-6) located in the Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Hunter region. We require contact details for a member of staff such as teacher librarian, assistant principal or classroom teacher. If you are a parent, carer or P&C member we encourage you to speak with a staff member and share our website or brochure

  • Do you have resources for teachers?

    Included with each booking is access to the worksheets and timed lesson plans, including curriculum links, learning outcomes and materials.

  • Do you have a minimum number of students?

    In order to pay our dedicated local writers a fair wage for their work, we do have minimum numbers per booking (22 students for plot, character and poetry workshops; 15 students for illustration, editing or all-day masterclasses). Some schools have chosen to collaborate with other local schools in their network and host a combined event with a larger group – this can also be a great way for kids to form new connections and friendships! If your school is unable to meet the minimum numbers, please contact us to discuss how we might be able to adjust the program for a smaller school.

  • The day/time I want to book is not available, can you help?

    Absolutely! At present our booking system is only set up for limited time slots, but there is an option to leave a comment on the booking form with your preference. Alternatively, you can contact us directly and we will do our best to accommodate your preferred day and time.

  • How much does the program cost?

    Prices vary depending on the workshop chosen. Characterisation or Plot Development workshops cost $12 per student; Editing or Illustration workshops cost $16 per student; and a full-day flash fiction Masterclass is priced at $32 per student. This covers our talented guides as well as all worksheets and resources. We are working hard to secure funding and bring down our costs; if price is a barrier for your school please contact us.

  • I'm interested in becoming a Story Hunter Guide, who should I contact?

    We are not presently taking on additional staff, however as the program grows, more opportunities may become available in the future. Jobs are advertised through the Newcastle Writers Festival newsletter and social media channels.

  • Do you work with secondary schools?

    While our suite of workshops was designed with Stage 2 & 3 students in mind, we are keen to adapt and expand the program for Stage 4 classes in future. For inquiries about trialling a Story Hunter workshop in your high school, please email us.

  • How do I become a sponsor?

    We are always grateful for the support of new sponsors and would love to have a conversation about how we can support your business in return – please get in touch for further information.

    Individuals and businesses who would prefer to make a tax-deductible donation can do so via this link.

Story Hunter Guides

Emma Biddle

Emma Biddle is a creative writing PhD candidate, and published YA and children’s author. She has previously worked as an English teacher and for a local publishing company in administration and cover design. Needless to say, she loves books. Emma believes that writing is a reflection of the creative nature that makes us human, and a way to explore our empathy and curiosity. She loves working with young people to develop their ideas and is excited to be a part of the Story Hunter team.

Jess Black

Jess Black is an award-winning author of more than fifty children's books. Jess regularly teaches creative writing in schools and runs holiday workshops. Jess has written the Tales of Mr Walker series about a dog who comes to live in the fanciest hotel in town. Jess has also written the Kitty is Not a Cat series, Little Paws series and the Keeper of the Crystals series; and is co-author of the hugely successful Bindi Wildlife Adventure series, the Kaboom Kid series and the Animal Tales series. Jess lives in Newcastle with her two daughters, husband and slightly batty cat and dog.

Karen Eastwood

Karen Eastwood is a storyteller, writer, podcast host and educator. She has worked on Newcastle Library's early literacy programs including, Stories Come Alive, (formerly known as The Wacky Wombat Show) as well as the annual Book Week Show. Karen has facilitated storytelling and creative writing programs for all ages. Her mission is to help people have fun building connections through the sharing of stories. She especially enjoys helping children discover how to use the magic and power of words to convey their own unique perspectives and stories.

Catherine Owen

Cath Owen is a primary school teacher and writer who is lucky enough to live in beautiful Port Stephens on Worimi land. She has always loved stories in all forms, whether reading them, writing them or seeing them performed. She is a strong supporter of public education and is thrilled to be able to share her passion for stories and to help students in the Hunter region to develop their own voices. In her spare time, she loves to read, write, sing and to enjoy the natural beauty of Port Stephens with her kids.

Malini Stephen

Malini Stephen is a teacher and writer, passionate about all things reading and writing. Malini has previously lived in Darwin and now resides in Newcastle. Malini believes creativity is important for developing young minds to expand their imagination, and she works to support others with the skills to explore their ideas, create new worlds and make sense of this one.

Jacqueline Wright

Jacqui Wright is a teacher and writer who is a passionate believer in the power of stories to connect, inform, heal and empower individuals, groups, communities and nations. Jacqui's first novel, Red Dirt Talking, was longlisted for the 2013 Miles Franklin Literary Award. Since then, her stories, plays and articles have been published by Radio National, ABC News, Griffith Review, Fairfax, Westerly, Margaret River, Fremantle and Currency Presses. Jacqui's work at ABC Kimberley has shown that there is more than one way to tell a story. Putting words together in all kinds of ways – writing, drawing, speaking and recording via digital technologies – will never lose its magic!

Our Sponsors and Partners

Story Hunter is made possible by the support of volunteers, donors, partners & sponsors. To become a sponsor, please contact storyhunter@newcastlewritersfestival.org.au

 

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