• Kirli Saunders is one of the writers taking part in the virtual Mini-Writing festival with school students. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
A writing festival for kids has gone online and quickly developed into a mass event that has provided one Gunai writer the perfect opportunity to foster a connection to Country amongst students from every state and territory.
Keira Jenkins

30 Jul 2020 - 12:17 PM  UPDATED 31 Jul 2020 - 2:42 PM

Thirty-five thousand primary school students from around Australia participated in an online creative writing event this week as part of the inaugural Littlescribe Mini-Writing Festival.

The five day event brought together 13 Australian authors, illustrators and literacy specialists to deliver a range of online workshops aimed at promoting literacy through storytelling.

Three 'virtual' writing workshops ran each day catering to all levels of students, with each featuring a new author and a fresh writing challenge. 

On Wednesday, Gunai writer Kirli Saunders workshopped writing poems about landscapes with the students.

"The whole idea was to incorporate the landscape as an additional character and use personification to bring children into connecting to Country," she told NITV News.

"Having that curious mind about landscape helps our young ones be custodians and care for the land."

Ms Saunders said it was wonderful to see the students writing about natural spaces that were important to them, like the ocean, bush and waterfalls.

"Storytelling is such a rich, cultural part of our history and our connection to the landscape," she said.

Ms Saunders said engaging more students with First Nations stories and ways of thinking and being could enrich Australia by fostering a sense of connection to Country and community. 

The festival developed into the massive virtual event thanks to COVID-19, said organisers, and now offers the opportunity to be a 'warm-up' for this year’s National Book Week, which itself has been postponed to October.

This year's Book Week theme, Curious Creatures, Wild Minds, has been woven through every session of the Littlescribe event.

All work produced by the students will be shared on the Festival "Story Starter Wall", a digital library available to family, friends and community, with the workshops also to remain accessible to school teachers after the festival concludes.

Wiradjuri writer Tara June Winch wins Miles Franklin book award
Ms Winch said she hoped her win would encourage the next generation of Indigenous voices to pursue a career in the industry.