Explore the 2024 Program


Russ the Story Bus

The full line-up of authors will be released in August 2024.

Russ will be touring during Term 4, 2024 from Monday 21 October to Friday 13 December.

Russ the Story Bus will be travelling and visiting schools throughout Greater Western Sydney.

2024 expressions of interest are now open and will close Friday 5 July 2024. Please fill out the expression of interest form here.

Sydney Writers’ Festival will be selecting schools to take part in the 2024 Russ the Story Bus tour based on a variety of factors, including location, ICSEA score (of below 1000), and will prioritise government schools, especially those with above-average populations of LOTE students or Indigenous students.  

Russ is a full size 12m bus and is best served by having somewhere to park with access to power and near uncover/shade such as a COLA. We also need access to a school hall or library where the author/illustrator presentation will take place.

In the months leading up to your confirmed visit from Russ the Story Bus, the Tour Team will contact you to discuss the details of your visit and ensure that everything will run smoothly on the day. You will also be sent some information about the visiting author or illustrator, as well as some activity sheets and classrooms ideas that you are welcome to make use of. 

Approximately 250 students from each school are able to take part in a Russ the Story Bus visit in one day. Sydney Writers’ Festival intends this program to involve whole classes and year groups and requests for a small number of students to attend from multiple classes will not be granted. The decision regarding which classes and year groups will participate in the visit will be agreed on in advance between the school and Sydney Writers' Festival. Where possible we will see every student in the school but with larger schools this on occasions not possible. What year groups participate can also depend on the visiting author. 

While always understanding of schedule changes, the Tour Team cannot guarantee that late additions or change requests to the tour schedule will be accommodated. 

Russ visits one school per day. Festival staff will arrive one hour before the school day begins and depart by 3pm. Where possible, Russ will arrive at your school the afternoon beforehand so that he is in place for the following day’s visit. 

Russ the Story Bus will visit your school with an Australian children’s author or illustrator. Each participating student will take part in one of two author presentations as well as visit Russ the Story Bus to select one of the many brand-new books he holds to take home. 

As a free program, a visit from Russ the Story Bus comes at no cost to the students or to the school. We do ask that all participating schools complete an online evaluation after the visit as part of the program. 

A visit from Russ the Story Bus is suitable for primary-aged children (from Kindergarten to Year 6). Sydney Writers’ Festival will work with the school to ensure that the visiting author is speaking to an age group that is suited to their work. 

Russ can see a maximum of approximately 250 students a day. Each class gets about 15-20 minutes on the bus each to select a book. Sydney Writers’ Festival will work with you to organise a schedule for the day to ensure that all participating students have ample time to visit Russ and select their free book. 

Sydney Writers’ Festival staff work alongside your nominated teacher or teacher-librarian school representative to coordinate the visit. Our Tour Team will be in touch beforehand to confirm all the details. It is expected that each class visiting will be accompanied by their classroom teacher or another teacher familiar with their individual reading abilities. 

Yes. It is a requirement that all Sydney Writers’ Festival staff and volunteers have a valid Working With Children Check to be part of this program. 

It is Sydney Writers’ Festival’s preference that Russ the Story Bus enters school grounds for the duration of the visit. We require access to power and shade/shelter such as a COLA nearby. 

The author/illustrator’s presentation will need to be held in a school hall or library that has access to a projector or smart board, and a microphone. 

We will provide a Risk Assessment and Working With Children Checks for all staff and volunteers attending your school. Our Russ the Story Bus Tour Manager will be in contact before your visit – please let them know if you require any specific risk or compliance documents.  

Each year, Russ the Story Bus is adorned in colourful illustrations by one of Australia’s best children’s book illustrators. Jenny Lovlie lovingly illustrated Russ' current look. 

During the confirmation and booking process, there will be an opportunity to discuss any special access requirements you or your students may have. If you have any questions, please email russthestorybus@swf.org.au.

Sydney Writers’ Festival employs the services of a professional photographer to capture selected Russ the Story Bus visits. These photos are for archival and marketing purposes only. The booking of a Russ the Story Bus visit grants permission for these photos to be used for these intended purposes. Sydney Writers’ Festival will also let you know in advance if photographs are expected to be taken. If you, or any students in your care, do not wish to be photographed, please inform the photographer or a Sydney Writers’ Festival staff member. 

The interior of Russ the Story Bus was designed by award-winning architectural firm LAVA. 

When registering your interest in a Russ the Story Bus visit you will be ask to agree to the following terms and conditions. 

The services that will be provided by the Sydney Writers’ Festival are:

a.     A visit by our travelling story bus, in the form of a 12-metre long bus and support van.

b.     One (1) children’s author/illustrator will conduct two 30-45-minute talks for up to a total of 250 students at your school.

c.     The opportunity for every participating students to choose a brand new book of their own form Russ the Story Bus

d.     Arrive and depart the school site at the agreed upon times.

e.     Sydney Writers’ Festival holds an insurance certificate of currency for Public Liability. 

f.      Assurance that all the Sydney Writers’ Festival staff and volunteers have valid Working with Children Checks.  

g.     Current Risk Assessment for the Russ the Story Bus program

h.     Minimum two (2) staff members to manage Russ the Story Bus operations, which includes a driver and onboard management. 

The services that will be provided by your school are: 

a.     Teachers to manage the children entering and exiting Russ.

b.     Teachers to ensure students book choices best suit their reading levels.

c.     Teachers to make Sydney Writer’s Festival staff aware of any students who do not have permission to be photographed. 

d.     Teachers to maintain order during the author talks, and while on Russ the Story Bus. 

e.     Access to the school grounds for Russ the Story Bus, and or a safe parking space away from traffic

f.      Provide accurate contact information to the Sydney Writers’ Festival so that the Russ the Story Bus team can reach the correct school contacts.

g.     Access to a school hall, library or classroom with a projector or smart board for the use of the visiting author/illustrator, and access to a PA system

h.     Completion of the Sydney Writers' Festival Evaluation Form within two weeks of the Russ the Story Bus visit.

i.      Access to sufficient car parking spaces for visiting Russ personnel


Each organisation releases and holds harmless the other party, including its respective officers, agents and employees, from and against all claims, damages, liabilities, costs and expenses (including any reasonable legal costs and expenses) incurred or suffered by or arising out of, in connection with, or incidental to the acts, or omissions (other than those involving negligence or wilful default) of either party, its agents or representatives in connection with the Sydney Writers’ Festival or this memorandum.