Virtual Book Week event for schools

One of Central Victoria’s favourite events for schools is going virtual this year, meaning students across the country can hear from acclaimed authors, illustrators and poets, all from the comfort of their classroom or home.

Presented through a partnership between La Trobe University, City of Greater Bendigo, Bendigo Writers Festival and Arena Theatre, Looking Forward will be held on Monday 19 October, coinciding with the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book Week.

Hosted by animated robot Battletac, the event will take students through a series of engaging talks by professionals in the literature space – including illustrator Dub Leffler, author Coral Vass and poet Solli Raphael.

Students in Years 4 to 8 will have a chance to pose questions to the speakers in real time, and the event will also be available on-demand for schools to access later in the term.

La Trobe University Dean of School of Education, Professor Joanna Barbousas, said this iconic event on the school calendar will be available to more students this year.

“Although students can’t set foot at Ulumbarra Theatre, we are hoping to capture the buzz and excitement of this event, and good story-telling, for even more students this year.”

Professor Barbousas said the event comes at an opportune time for students.

“At a time when many of us have limited opportunities to socialise and participate in physical activities, engaging with books and exploring the art of storytelling is even more important than ever,” Professor Barbousas said.

“We are excited that students across the country can hear from this year’s line-up of published authors, illustrators and poets, and we hope it will inspire them to read more widely, or explore their own creative interests.”

Acting Manager of Bendigo Venues and Events, producer of the Bendigo Writers Festival, Jacoba Kelly, says she is thrilled to see the Schools Day continue in an online format.

“Incorporating opportunities for student involvement has been a priority – indeed a reality – since the establishment of the Bendigo Writers Festival,” Ms Kelly said.

“Our Schools Day, Text Marks the Spot is always well-supported by Central Victorian schools, with more than 3000 students attending sessions during the 2019 Bendigo Writers Festival.

“Thanks to the continued support of La Trobe University, we are thrilled to see the Bendigo Writers Festival Schools Day presented in 2020 to a large online audience, in a creative and engaging way,” Ms Kelly said.

To register your class and join in live on the day, visit

The event will be available on-demand to watch, but for the full engaging experience, we recommend joining live with students in the classroom.

Looking Forward speaker bios:

Dub Leffler has illustrated twenty-three books for children, including Sorry Day, by Coral Vass – who will also be joining the event. Sorry Day won the 2019 CBCA Eve Pownall Award for Information Books, and Black Cockatoo, by Carl Merrison and Hakea Hustler, which was a 2019 CBCA Honour Book

Coral Vass is an award-winning Australian children’s author of several books including Sorry Day, Grandma’s Treasured Shoes and Meet Don Bradman.  Coral shares her passion for children’s picture books with storytelling and writing workshops that ignite imagination and help children create their very own stories.

At 12 years of age, Solli Raphael was titled the youngest ever winner of the Australian Poetry Slam held at the Sydney Opera House.  Now 15, Solli is a globally renowned poet and keynote speaker; having led workshops; performed and spoken at conferences, schools and universities.

Media Contact: Kate O’Connor – k.o’, 0436 189 629