Children's and YA Program


Welcome to our blockbuster Children’s and Young Adult program, with events for little kids, big kids, teens and kids-at-heart!

Welcome to Glowtopia: Sunday May 22

Welcome to Glowtopia, where kids and teens reign supreme. Situated along the entire length of Pier 4/5, Glowtopia’s distinctive glittering landscape is home to more bestselling children’s authors and illustrators than you can count on many hands. This star-studded population is very friendly, although visitors to Glowtopia are warned to beware of spontaneous outbreaks of storytelling, live drawing and excessive entertaining by Glowtopia’s citizens.

There are four unique regions within Glowtopia, all offering their own brand of mischief and mayhem. The Ministry of Noise caters to visitors of all ages, who often find themselves unable to resist toe-tapping, or even shimmying, to the Ministry’s continuous flow of disco beats and musical storytelling. The Department of Stuff and Nonsense tends to attract the 7+ crowd, who can’t get enough of seeing their favourite authors doing ridiculously entertaining things. The Bureau of Artistics, found the southernmost tip of Glowtopia, is popular with anyone of any age who enjoys craft, bookish activities, bookish film clips, live storytelling, crafty workshops and made-up nonsense. The Royal Institute of All Day YA is open to all, but most commonly draws an older and more sophisticated crowd, many of whom have a voracious appetite for YA books of all genres and their superstar authors.

Overseeing the entire glowing metropolis is mascot and much-loved mobile book exchange, Russ the Story Bus.

There's also a special event celebrating a whopping 40 years of everyone’s favourite walking Burrawang tree Grug! 

Look out for roving kid reporters from Crinkling News. If they stop and ask you about your favourite authors and Festival highlights, you might just end up in the news!

And don’t forget to have your photo taken with one of your favourite book characters. Grug will be strolling the Glowtopia boardwalk, along with Maisy, Where’s Wally? and Geronimo Stilton.

View and download The Glowtopia location map

Ministry of Noise

Held in the Sydney Dance Viewing Lounge. 
All ages are welcome and entry is free.


CYA1 Kinderling Kids Radio Disco 
May 22, 10.30am–1.30pm
Kinderling Kids Radio brings its Regression Session Disco to the Festival! Join hosts Barry Divola and DJ Lorna Clarkson as they mix up the tunes to get everyone, from nannas to nippers, jumping to the beat.

CYA2 B'Tutta!
May 22, 2.30–3.30pm
Music and storytelling collide in this ‘striking’ session from hit percussion ensemble B’tutta! Conduct, perform and improvise your own stories in time to the exciting rhythms and beats. Presented with Musica Viva.

Department of Stuff and Nonsense

Held in Sydney Dance 1. 
Hosted by Felice Arena. All ages welcome, but recommended for 7+.
All visitors must have a free ticket for each session for entry. Free tickets can be found at the Glowtopia Tourist Information Booth on the western side of Pier 4/5. Tickets are limited so get in quick!


CYA3 Frank Woodley's Kizmet!
May 22, 10–10.45am
An hour with Frank Woodley is never predictable! Come along for the ride as Frank reads and performs from his hit series, Kizmet, shows off his illustrating prowess and does a bit of comedy business.

CYA4 Illustrator Battle Rounds
May 22, 11.15am–12pm
It’s pencils at 10 paces when Australia’s hottest children’s book illustrators go texta-totexta in the ultimate live drawing battle. Eight illustrators. Seven rounds. Only one winner!

CYA5 Aaron Blabey: The Bad Guys and Pig the Pug
May 22, 12.30–1.15pm
Bestselling author and illustrator Aaron Blabey reveals how he makes his books, previews some new ones and draws a few of your favourite characters. You may even go home with an original drawing!

CYA6 The (Mostly) Totally Brilliant World of Tom Gates
May 22, 1.45–2.30pm
Join Liz Pichon, creator of the multi-award-winning Tom Gates books, in this session packed with doodles, fun and mayhem! Find out how Liz comes up with her ideas and learn how to draw like Tom himself.

CYA7 Wordburger!
May 22, 3–3.45pm
In this snack-size Wordburger session, SBS’s Mr Dictionary (David Astle) stirs up a storm of riddles and puzzles, puns and clues, giving new life to letters and language.

CYA8 Bajo & Hex: Pixel Raiders
May 22, 4.15-5pm
Before online games there were books. Bajo & Hex from ABC TV’s Good Game talk about their new book series Pixel Raiders and how games influenced their ideas and storytelling.

Bureau of Artistics

All ages welcome. All events free, no bookings.


CYA14 Storytime Clubhouse
May 22, 10am–4pm
Pull up a beanbag and settle in as your favourite children’s authors and illustrators read you their stories. With a different author dropping into the clubhouse every half hour, you never know who you might meet.

CYA15 Casula Powerhouse Journey Maker Station
May 22, 10am–4pm
Want to fly to the moon or row across an ice-cream ocean? Get yourself to the Journey Maker Station, where you can turn recycled materials into a dream machine to take you to your imagined world.

CYA16 Billie B. Brown's Mystery Club
May 22, 10am–4pm
Break the code to join Billie B. Brown’s Secret Mystery Club! Once you’re in, help solve the mystery of the spooky house, meet Billie’s creator, Sally Rippin, and have your photo taken with Billie and the gang.

CYA17 #Fictionary
May 22, 10am–4pm
Ever felt the itch to make up your own word for something? #Fictionary is your delspricious* chance to dream up new words, creating your own original piece  of English! Stop by the #Fictionary corner to submit your words to the newest dictionary in town. You might just find your word featured in David Astle's next Wordplay column. (*amazing)

CYA18 Giant Harry Potter Colouring Mural
May 22, 10am–4pm
Calling all muggles and wizards! We need your help colouring in our giant Harry Potter mural. Sign your name on the contributor wall, pick your favourite colours and get busy.

CYA19 Colour and Craft Depot
May 22, 10am–4pm
No need to stay between the lines at our colour and craft depot. Kids of all ages are encouraged to come along and let their creativity run amok with coloured pencils, paper, crayons, book activity sheets and crafty bits.

CYA20 My Story Booth
May 22, 10am–4pm
We need your stories! Sydney Writers’ Festival wants to hear about the everyday lives of children aged 5 to 18 from all across Sydney. Spend some time at our writing station and pop your story into the dropbox. Selected entries will be published on the SWF My Story website after the Festival.

CYA21 Parrot Carrot Big Book Bonanza
May 22, 10.15–11am
Join in as Kate and Jol Temple don silly hats and read silly rhymes from their oversized picture books, while Jon Foye whips up silly illustrations of the crowd.

CYA22 On the Spot Stories
May 22, 12.15–2.15pm
James O’Loghlin and Andrew Cranna have only two hours to write and illustrate a  story and they need your help! Drop in to give them your best ideas and watch the story unfold before your eyes.

CYA23 Story Box Library Presents...
May 22, 2.30–4pm
Watch a selection of Australia’s most loved children’s authors on the biggish screen. Learn how they come up with their stories, then watch as their characters are brought to life by some of our best storytellers, from Nick Cave to Claire Bowditch.

Royal Institute of All Day YA

Held at Sydney Dance 2. 
Hosted by Will Kostakis. All ages welcome, but recommended for 13+.
Tickets for TeenCon 2016 are available for purchase online ahead of the event.
All visitors must have a free ticket for the other sessions to gain entry. Free tickets can be found at the Glowtopia Tourist Information Booth on the eastern side of Pier 4/5.

The Royal Institute of All Day YA is supported by Macquarie University.


CYA9 TeenCon1: Cornucopia
May 22, 10–11.30am
TeenCon 2016 is where it's at for inside info on new and upcoming YA books. With swag bags, a Greatest YA Hero of All Time battle and the chance to win the prize for Best One Line Summary of a YA Book, you don't want to miss this. Bookings essential.

CYA10 Is This Just a Fantasy? 
May 22, 12–12.45pm
Why is fantasy so popular in young adult fiction? Is the line between the real and the fantastical irrelevant because all books are magic? Michael Grant, Jack Heath, Jay Kristoff and Claire Zorn separate fact from fantasy. With Dr Victoria Flanagan.

CYA11 Tommy Wallach Live! 
May 22, 1.15–2pm
Brooklyn-based YA writer and indie musician Tommy Wallach reads from his work and performs original songs inspired by his books in this exclusive solo event.

CYA12 Ten Things I Hate About You
May 22, 2.30–3.15pm
From love triangles to smouldering bad boys, we ask why the same old YA clichés keep cropping up. Audience participation is strongly encouraged as Kirsty Eagar, Jordan Idiare, Will Kostakis, Alice Pung and Adele Walsh come up with the #Top10YAcliches.

CYA13 TeenCon 2: Erilea
May 22, 3.45–5.15pm
TeenCon 2016 is where it's at for inside info on new and upcoming YA books. With swag bags, a Greatest YA Hero of All Time battle and the chance to win the prize for Best One Line Summary of a YA Book, you don't want to miss this. Bookings essential.

School Days: May 16 - May 20

Our School Days program is a fantastic opportunity for students to engage with their favourite authors and discover exciting new voices. Throughout the week, eight bestselling authors talk about their craft, perform from their work and take questions from the audience. Primary School Days features Jon Klassen, Liz Pichon, Tohby Riddle and Judith Rossell. Secondary School Days includes John Boyne, Michael Grant, Vikki Wakefield and Claire Zorn.

School Days are supported by Western Sydney University, The Concourse Chatswood, and the City of Sydney.

Tickets are still available for Primary School Days: Free at Town Hall on Friday May 20. Free tickets are only available to schools with a FOEI score of 120 or more only. Bookings essential.

Tickets are still available for Secondary School Days at the Roslyn Packer Theatre, Walsh Bay on Monday May 16 and Riverside Theatres, Parramatta on Tuesday May 17. Bookings essential.

Please note: students attending School Days events need to bring pencils and paper.

Best of the Fest: Monday May 16

Presented by Sydney Writers’ Festival and BOSTES

For the first time ever, the Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards (BOSTES) is partnering with Australia’s most exciting literary celebration, Sydney Writers’ Festival, to present a full day of events tailored to students in years 9 to 12.

On Monday 16 May, we invite you to bring your students to inspiring events delivered by the biggest stars of the 2016 Sydney Writers’ Festival. Join a Nobel Prize-winning scientist, internationally renowned economists and the world’s most dynamic thinkers as they speak on a wide range of subjects linked to the NSW school curriculum.

This new program will both educate and stimulate your students with knowledge and insight beyond the normal classroom experience.

Download 2016 BOSTES Best of the Fest brochure and Booking Form.

Monday 16 May, 10am-2pm at Pier 2/3 in the heart of the Festival precinct in Walsh Bay
Ticket prices: $30 per student for 3 events $24 per student for 2 events $15 per student for 1 event

Shakespeare's Sonnets: 10am at Pier 2/3 - Main Stage 

The Making of Modern Austraila: 10am at Pier 2/3 - The Loft

Changing Australia: 11.15am at  Pier 2/3 - Main Stage - SOLD OUT

Innovate or Die: 11.15am  at Pier 2/3 - The Loft

Climate Change and All That: 12.45pm at  Pier 2/3 - Main Stage

Lessons from the Other Side: 12.45pm  at Pier 2/3 - The Loft






Sponsors and Partners Sydney Writers' Festival 2016