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Book fans back on campus to meet bestsellers

22 Feb 2023

About 3,000 avid young readers from South East Queensland will swap school for university on the Sunshine Coast tomorrow and Friday to meet their favourite authors at a festival dedicated to books.

Presented by Immanuel Lutheran College, the annual Voices on the Coast youth literature festival is returning face-to-face for the first time since COVID restrictions in 2020, attracting crowds of school students aged 10 to 18 to the University of the Sunshine Coast campus at Sippy Downs.

The festival encourages the next generation of book lovers to be inspired by dozens of authors, illustrators and performers at workshops, signings and other presentations.

Highlights will include Sydney author-illustrator Matt Stanton, who sold more than a million copies around the world after his Funny Kid series debuted at number one, and Melbourne author Amie Kaufman, a New York Times, USA Today and international bestseller of science fiction and fantasy.

Festival coordinator Kelly Dunham is expecting high-energy presentations by the likes of Sydney’s Nat Amoore (Secrets of a Schoolyard Millionaire), Kate and Jol Temple (smash hit Bin Chicken series), ex-Disney illustrator Serena Geddes and Indigenous artist/musician Gregg Dreise.

“We’re thrilled to be back doing what we know best – engaging directly with an audience,” Ms Dunham says.

UniSC Detection Dogs for Conservation Director Dr Romane Cristescu and Tasmanian co-author Nic Gill will discuss their book Poo, Spew and Other Gross Things Animals Do!

Award-winning author UniSC Emeritus Professor of Creative Writing Gary Crew will also share his skills and experiences.

UniSC Lecturer in Education Dr Carol Smith says the popularity of the festival and anecdotal evidence of increased library borrowings by children supports research showing that “the book is not dead”, whether printed, audio, digital or performed.

Dr Smith, who co-authored the text Literacy for the 21st Century, says literacy in all its forms is a strand in the English curriculum and a general capability in every learning area in the new Australian school curriculum.

Those areas are: English, Mathematics, Science, Health and Physical Education, Humanities and Social Sciences, The Arts, Technologies and Languages.

“Literacy is vital for developing the communication skills that every person needs throughout their life and career,” Dr Smith says.

“That’s why UniSC’s Education degrees focus on ensuring classroom teachers of the future are not only aware of what literacy is in 2023 and beyond, but also how it can be taught in tailored ways to the next generation.

“Our teachers will not be simply teaching to a script or manual, they will be flexible and creative with a deep understanding of the ‘how’ and ‘why’, not just the ‘what’ of literacy teaching.”

Two further festival events will be held at Immanuel Lutheran College:

Voices on the Green, a free community event with QBD Booksales from 5.30pm tomorrow;

Literary Breakfast with debut crime fiction author Nikki Mottram from 7.30am Saturday.

Tickets are available at

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