Online services affected overnight 24/25 Feb | Some materials will be unavailable from 17 Feb to mid-June during offsite works Read more

Home > Interact With Us > Media centre > Centre for Youth Literature turns 21

Centre for Youth Literature turns 21

Media release

This is an archived media release. Links were correct at the time of publication, but may have changed or expired.

Tuesday 28 February 2012

This year, the Centre for Youth Literature will celebrate 21 years of engaging young people aged ten to 18 years in reading, and connecting them with a wonderful world of writers, stories and inspiring events. 

‘Young people like to read, it’s the perfect escape, but they need the right encouragement and good books to read. The Centre for Youth Literature has done some great work over more than two decades, but there is still much to do, with the increasing competition for young people’s recreation and leisure time activities,’ explains Paula Kelly, the State Library of Victoria’s Reader Development and Offsite Learning Manager. 

Founded in 1991 by Agnes Nieuwenhuizen, the Centre for Youth Literature began as the Youth Literature Project and moved to the State Library of Victoria in 1999. The Centre is internationally renowned as being the first of its kind to focus on the development of youth literature, its readers and writers.

The Library is proud to support the work of the centre and sees it as integral to the Library’s role in engaging young Victorians in reading. Sue Hamilton, Acting Chief Executive Officer and State Librarian explains,

‘It’s well documented and supported by research that keeping young people reading will benefit and positively impact on their wellbeing and educational outcomes.’

While the program is predominantly offered in Victoria, the Centre for Youth Literature has a national remit in its role as a key organisation for the Australia Council for the Arts.

The popular website was launched in 2006 and revamped in 2011. The site provides a place young readers can find age-appropriate books, events and monthly competitions, and can recommend books to each other. The website and its popularity highlight the Centre’s ability to reach and engage with teens and preteens in new ways.

To celebrate 21 years, the Centre for Youth Literature held a special panel on 21 February featuring Agnes Nieuwenhuizen at the State Library of Victoria and on 22 February, school students participated in the Celebrating with Authors Workshop and enjoyed an inspiring day of stories, Bookgig performances and writing.

For more information visit or for students

Some 21st birthday wishes from celebrated Australian authors:

‘Congratulations and happy birthday, Centre for Youth Literature. You've done so much, and although much of it is out there, in public, high profile, I know there's also a huge amount that's done in the background, unseen and perhaps sometimes unappreciated. Thank you for all of it.’
- John Marsden

‘The Centre for Youth Literature at the State Library of Victoria is my favourite Centre for Youth Literature in the whole world. It is remarkably mature and sophisticated for its age, and you wouldn't guess that it's only 21.’  
- Morris Gleitzman

‘Happy 21st, Centre for Youth Literature, we're all grateful to you. The first time I did a writers festival, it was Reading Matters. Thanks to everyone for caring about young people and books at the same time.’  
- Markus Zusak


Centre for Youth Literature Events
Every year the Centre for Youth Literature runs a variety of programs and events such as Reading Matters, a three-day conference that brings professionals and young people together; Read Alert, the Centre for Youth Literature’s blog ( which is a valuable resource for librarians and teachers; Booktalker sessions for young readers and professionals, which provide a unique blend of talks, panel sessions and performances; Bookgigs, which bring books to life as writers and actors visit schools in regional Victoria; The Inky Awards, Australia’s only literary awards voted for by young people; and Boys, books, blokes & bytes, a highly successful program developed to encourage boys to read.