New children’s literature qualification launches

Are you inspired by Joy Cowley, Gavin Bishop, Selina Tusitala Marsh or Margaret Mahy?

14 Dec 2022

Associate Professor Nicola Daly is behind the launch of a new University of Waikato postgraduate qualification focused on children’s and young adult literature.

Are you inspired by Joy Cowley, Gavin Bishop, Selina Tusitala Marsh or Margaret Mahy?

A new post-graduate qualification focusing on children’s and young adult literature will launch at the University of Waikato in 2023, the county’s first academic programme of its kind.

The one-year Postgraduate Certificate in Children’s and Young Adult Literature in the School of Education offers a unique opportunity to focus on current theories and methodologies used in the analysis of children’s and young adult literature, programme coordinator, Nicola Daly, Associate Professor in Te Kura Toi Tangata, Division of Education says.

It will appeal to a wide range of people, she says, including librarians and educators who work with children and young people, as well as readers of all ages with a passion for children’s and young adult literature.

“One of the many interesting features of children’s literature is that it involves both children and adults writing, publishing and sharing stories,” Nicola says. “There are many aspects of the creation and consumption of children and young adult books to explore, including the role they play in reflecting culture and contributing to national identity.”

Nicola is nationally recognised for her passion and expertise in the field. Last week, she was named as the convenor of the English language panel of judges in the 2023 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

She has taught children’s literature at Waikato since 2014 and, together with Dr Janette Kelly-Ware, set up the Waikato Picturebook Research Unit in 2016. Based at the Wilf Malcolm Institute for Educational Research on the Hamilton campus, the Unit supports research on picturebooks in educational settings.

Since its launch in August 2021, more than 1000 students from more than 100 countries have enrolled in the Unit’s popular online course The Power of Picturebooks, developed by Nicola with colleague Dr Dianne Forbes.

“The popularity of the course led us to believe there was an appetite for a postgraduate certificate in children’s and adult literature,” Nicola says. “There is nothing like it, academically, in New Zealand.”

Students must take 60 points at 500 level (master’s level) from a selection of papers, including the prerequisite paper The Joy and Disruption of Children’s Literature.

The B Trimester paper looks at current issues and theories in children’s and young adult literature, covers a wide range of texts from around the world, and ends with an opportunity for students to do a deep dive into a topic of their choice with guidance and support. Students will gain an appreciation of the power of children’s literature to reflect, maintain and disrupt community norms.

As an online paper, there is flexibility for students from around New Zealand and the world to study this remotely - opening up opportunities to writers and scholars from outside Hamilton.

The new qualification has support from Te Puna Mātauranga National Library, the School Library Association of New Zealand Aotearoa, Library Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa, Hamilton City Library and author Dame Lynley Dodd.

The programme begins in 2023. To find out more about the paper, and prerequisites for enrolling, call 0800WAIKATO or email

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