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Stories for New Zealand’s Children to Hear and Tell

Narrative and non-fiction texts that reach out across the curriculum. Use them to spin threads and weave a cultural narrative into your storytelling curriculum.

Over the coming months, you will find a number of our new texts for telling available as digital resources that can be purchased from our website.


Each story or non-fiction text will be published along with a creative plan. The planning resources are produced with the ‘storytelling teacher’ in mind; teachers who have trained in teaching the storytelling way. Most plans are ‘non-specific’ to age/learner stage. Rather, they are a start-point for thinking creatively within story plot, character and themes. Often, the resource will be provided with another levelled ‘telling’ version. We recommend that younger learners have some solid experience of learning to learn the storytelling way, using traditional fairy stories and choral/participation stories, before dipping into ‘Stories for New Zealand’s Children to Hear and Tell’. Look out for our planning units for many of the traditional fairy stories. These include 'story changing' ideas to loiter and explore in NZ people, place and time. We will also add to our collection, with new NZ stories our youngest storytellers.

Storytelling in education as in life delivers content and language skills. ‘Stories for New Zealand’s Children to Hear and Tell’ will increase your learner's oral competencies and expand what they know about people, time and place in a 'land at the bottom of the world.' The Storyways Literacy pedagogical model places oral language and content learning at the root of a literacy learning hierarchy. Quite simply listening to, telling and reading stories makes you smart. Decoding and encoding are essential skills but alone do not address the great comprehension slump. In a future 'blog' conversation we can further explore the need for content in the curriculum and for curriculum design that can engage learners deeply to retain content and build knowledge.


Our intention is to fill a storytelling resource gap. A gap where we need more stories about New Zealand people, time and place; stories ready for telling the storytelling way. As a collection, our stories and non-fiction texts carry themes of guardianship and conservation, diversity, generational knowledge, and feature people and places of significance. Use them to reach out across the curriculum and to deliver content and ideas within history, geography, science and technology. Choose stories and non-fiction topics that can spin threads and weave a cultural narrative into your storytelling curriculum.


Each digital story unit includes; the storytelling text, a plan for teaching it the storytelling way, audio to support learning to tell the story, and some with a text for guided and independent reading. For example, The Wayfinder tells a story of one small boy and his people's journey to a new land; a voyage of peril, tragedy and survival in the Pacific Ocean. Use it to support historical imagining and to consider the guardianship of knowledge. The story carries content to learn about the ways of the Wayfinders and offers a doorway into cross-curriculum learning in Earth Science, History & Geography. A digital purchase for the Wayfinder includes two levelled versions of the story for telling; one full independent narrative and one shortened story with participation elements.


Here is a small selection of texts that will be available: Our growing collection of stories are created by Lisbeth Swanson & Judy Sachdeva. Each story is accredited in authorship. Several of our stories are the result of a collaborative writing process.

The Wayfinder; the story of one small boy and his people's journey to a new land; a voyage of peril, tragedy and survival in the Pacific Ocean.

Zealandia; a non-fiction text that explains the geological evolution that gives us 'our land at the bottom of the world.'

Land of Birds; a comic story about diversity and difference told through the context of the NZ native bird community.

Moa Hunt; a coming of age quest including generational learning with the passing on of skills within whanau.

Tohora- Chieftain of the sea; a tragic story of whaling times told from the whales' point of view.

Marooned on Open-Bay Rocks; a tale of survival against the odds where a group of sealers voyage and return after almost four years 'abandoned' off the Westland coast.

The First Tree To Be; narrative drawing on Maori myth & legend.

Dress for Success; a non-fiction explanation and persuasion to recycle, repurpose and reuse clothing.

Whekuwheku; a simple entry-level explanation of the water cycle and value of water.

Bird Brain; a narrative biographical telling of the life and work of Don Merton; the New Zealand conservationists credited with saving the Black Robin from extinction.



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