Opinion Writing

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The Middle Years: Keeping Kids Reading by Danielle Binks

Struggling to keep middle-grade kids reading? Danielle Binks shares her tips to keep pages turning! 14/08/2017


Kill Your Darlings / Online

We Read To Know We Are Not Alone: Examining the Lack of LGBTQI Characters in Australian Youth Literature

‘We read to know we are not alone,’ – the character of C.S. Lewis says this line in William Nicholson’s play, Shadowlands. To know that someone else shares our embarrassments, fears, doubts, longings … or...



We’re apparently experiencing a new renaissance in YA literature, heralded by the mega-star-power of books like Twilight, The Hunger Games, Harry Potter and The Fault in Our Stars. In fact, the popular HarperCollins Epic Reads...


Finding Books for Young Readers: The Readings Children’s Book Prize

Australian Children’s Laureate and bestselling children’s author Jackie French was named Senior Australian of the Year in January, and in her speech she had one important message: ‘If you want an intelligent child, give them...


Agent Carter and the future of the female superhero

The Agent Carter television series has been described ‘a Triumph for Women, Marvel and TV,’ and heralded as an important new chapter in comics culture. But why is this supposedly groundbreaking new show struggling to...


Young Adult Literature: genre is not readership

YA is not a genre – it is a readership. I’d like to talk about the reason for the frequent confusion between the two. It may seem like pedantic nitpicking to focus on this distinction,...


Disability or superpower? Deaf identity in YA

In September this year, American author and illustrator Cece Bell released a graphic memoir, El Deafo, about losing her hearing at the age of four. El Deafo details Bell’s middle-grade life and deaf experiences: she...


Books that take you there: YA literary tourism

I love The Amazing Race franchise, and I adore Anne of Green Gables. So when The Amazing Race Canada made a pit stop at Prince Edward Island this season, I was thrilled, and my bucket...


Mean girls, bullies and private school privilege: Alice Pung’s Laurinda

Following on from the release in October of their first young adult title, Clare Atkins’ Nona and Me, Black Inc. this month released their second, Alice Pung’s Laurinda. NOVEMBER 3, 2014


Nepotism, bullying and stalking: When online reviews go bad

Iris Murdoch said, ‘A bad review is even less important than whether it is raining in Patagonia.’ American young adult author Kathleen Hale may want to take heed of Murdoch’s wise words, or those of...


Race, growing up and Nona and Me

This month, Black Inc. published Clare Atkins’ debut novel Nona and Me. Atkins’ novel is the prestigious publishing house’s first foray into young adult literature, and with it they have set the bar high. OCTOBER...


‘YA-bashing’: sexism meets elitism

Another month, another critic who doesn’t read young adult (YA) literature but still feels superior enough to dictate to those who do. And with this latest instalment of ‘YA bashing’ comes critique of the critics...


Beyond ableism and ignorance: disability and fiction

Youth literature has the ability to shape our attitudes to subcultures, and been proven to create empathy by reducing prejudice… So, if the genre has such potential for inclusivity, ‘why are so many of these...


By teens, for teens: the Inky Awards

In August, Hollywood’s annual Teen Choice Awards felt the sting of backlash when it was revealed they were excluding the event’s most vital element: teens. The annual awards show honours achievements in pop culture –...


Review: The Boy’s Own Manual to Being a Proper Jew

Yossi is seventeen years old and lives in Melbourne’s biggest Jewish suburb of Caulfield. He attends Beth Dovid high school and is among their most spiritual and dedicated students. His mother died of bowel cancer...


How to buy books for young adults

‘Excuse me, where are the boys’ books? I’m looking to buy for a 16-year-old.’ I overheard this question while browsing in a bookshop recently. I felt insta-rage, and wanted to explode into a rant about...


Fan-Girling Over Super Heroines

The testosterone-fuelled BIFF! BANG! KAPOW! of classic comics can seem uninviting, filled with spandex-clad men and swooning damsels who hold limited appeal outside the stereotypical 18-35 year-old male demographic. But things are changing in the...


Australia Needs Diverse Books

Back in May a group of American authors began the ‘We Need Diverse Books’ campaign – a call to action for more minority representation in youth literature. Their mission statement reads: ‘We recognize many kinds...


YA is the new black

Back in 2012, Daniel Radcliffe hosted Saturday Night Live (SNL) and began his opening monologue thusly: ‘To the children who love Harry Potter, I want to say your enthusiasm was the real magic. I so...


Who run the book world? GIRLS!

‘It’s no wonder boys aren’t reading – the children’s book market is run by women.’ So claimed the headline of an April article in The Times. *Cue Liz Lemon eye-roll* JUNE 17, 2014


The Fault in the Cult of John Green

I like John Green as much as the next YA-aficionado. I’ve snot-cried through his books, and chuckled over his YouTube videos. But now it’s time to talk about the media-led oversaturation of John Green, and...


Where are all the great young adult TV shows?

The box office is once again dominated by movie adaptations of young adult novels: there’s John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, Veronica Roth’s Divergent, Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games Mockingjay – Part 1, James Dashner’s...


Magabala Books and the importance of Indigenous YA literature

In 2012 I wrote my first column for Kill Your Darlings: ‘You are not alone: Why we need more Indigenous writers and characters in Australian YA.’ Two years later and it’s still mainly specialist and...


The young adult books of my young adulthood

In March, Penguin Books Australia rereleased Melina Marchetta’s first novel as part of its Australian Children’s Classics series. Looking for Alibrandi was first published in 1992; the first print run sold out in two months,...


A children’s lit prize of one’s own

Earlier this year, Readings Bookstore announced the creation of The Readings Children’s Book Prize. The eligibility criteria for the 2014 Prize was specified as ‘a work of published fiction, written for children aged 5–12’. MARCH...


The fault with a sick-lit debate

American author John Green’s young adult (YA) novel The Fault in Our Stars has been a bestselling juggernaut since its release in 2012. Green’s book was somewhat inspired by his friendship with Esther Earl, whose...


Graphic novels and ‘reluctant readers’

Last year the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) added the first graphic novel to its VCE English text list. Maus by Art Spiegelman is about a Jewish cartoonist coming to terms with his father’s...


Let’s talk about Speak

I want to leave, transfer, warp myself to another galaxy. I want to confess everything, hand over the guilt and mistake and anger to someone else. There is a beast in my gut, I can...


Alex Award: introducing teen readers to adult books

It continually amazes me that there are people out there (let’s call them literary snobs) who absolutely refuse to read young adult (YA) books. Now, I often say that I’m not a big fan of...


Why children’s and YA literature deserves more media attention

If you’re not meant to judge a book by its cover, then please don’t judge a readership by the coverage it receives in the mainstream media. Earlier this month, Jonathan Myerson blundered his way into...

All grown up: a brief history of The Little Bookroom

Across the road from Flinders Street Station there is a little street called Degraves. At one end there’s a splash of street art adorning walls and dumpsters, while the other end remains Parisian: all black...


Written for teenagers, censored by adults: an interview with Dianne Touchell

Last year young adult (YA) author, Dianne Touchell, released her contemporary debut Creepy & Maud. It’s a suburban love story about a girl with Trichotillomania (a compulsive urge to pull out one’s own hair), and...


The adult vs children’s lit debate: an interview with Morris Gleitzman

There’s been much debate in the world of young adult literature after children’s author/illustrator Shoo Rayner posted a blog questioning the decision to award author Patrick Ness the Carnegie Medal (the British Children’s Book Award)....


Discovering YA

It seems fitting that in Australia there are two publishing initiatives searching for new voices in the Young Adult (YA) readership; after all, YA is all about discovery and firsts. Both Text Publishing Company’s Text...


Glory Books

Not too long ago, I stumbled upon a particularly heinous form of bookish torture, when a friend confessed to me that she wouldn’t let here 10-year-old daughter read beyond Harry Potter and the Prisoner of...


Adults: Young and New

There is a new readership amongst us: they’re no longer young adult, but not quite adult – they are ‘new adult’ – a term coined by St. Martin’s Press back in 2009, for books featuring...

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Dear Jennifer Byrne…

Dear Ms Byrne, Did you know that if the manuscripts of To Kill A Mockingbird and Catcher in the Rye were pitched today, they would most likely be marketed to the young adult readership? Now,...


Waiting for Jellicoe

Here’s the latest news straight from the teenage underground, concerning a movie adaptation of a rather sacred young adult novel from one of Australia’s most beloved authors: Melina Marchetta. FEBRUARY 11, 2013


The dark divide of YA fiction

Last month an English teacher took to the The Age opinion page to shake his fist at the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) for including Gabriel García Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera...


You are not alone: Why we need more Indigenous writers and characters in Australian YA

This year I read two wonderful Australian young adult (YA) books, written by Indigenous authors and featuring Aboriginal protagonists. Grace Beside Me (Magabala Books, 2012) by Sue McPherson is set in 2008, the year of...


Strengthening the Spirit: Jared Thomas’ ‘Songs That Sound Like Blood’

The last 12 months have seen some seriously great Indigenous teen stories across several mediums… AUGUST 26, 2016


Are Writer’s Festivals Catering for the Next Generation?

Amid the hand-wringing over who does and doesn’t deserve a platform at the Melbourne Writers Festival, the perennially overlooked teen and genre communities are seemingly being forgotten once again – and are creating alternative festivals...


What’s In A Name

State Library Victoria’s recent decision to retire its Centre for Youth Literature brand has been met with dismay and anger from youth literature advocates. The Library emphasises that its youth programming will not change –...


Writing for a Middle Grade Audience with Danielle Binks

Learn everything you need to know about writing for readers aged 8-12 with this online writing workshop. 2020


New Librarians' Symposium

A Local Love Story: Librarians and #LoveOzYA

Danielle surveys the YA literary landscape in Australia and calls for librarians to rally behind young readers, revolutionise their YA collections, and embrace Australian authors! Sounds like our kind of movement! MAY 31, 2017


A defence of FanFiction

Between December 2002 and February 2009, Danielle Binks wrote 391, 522 words of FanFic. This is her story (and the story of FanFiction more generally) 30TH MAY 2018


Westerly Magazine

Westerly Magazine – 61.1

Danielle Binks – A Review of ‘The Intervention: An Anthology’ JULY 27, 2016

Wheeler Centre / Online

It Takes a Village to Write a Romance: the surprising rise of collaborative fiction

What happens when you write a romance novel by committee? In the case of Shannon Curtis and ‘Alice Campion’, the answer is: major publication deals and an avid readership. Danielle Binks explores the rise of...


By Any Other Name: the secret lives of romance writers

Why do so many romance writers choose pen-names? Danielle Binks looks into what happens when authors’ covers are blown. WEDNESDAY, 20TH APRIL 2016


Daily Life / Online

How Outlander is flipping typical TV dramas on their head

“We’ve got a boner to pick with you!” So began a College Humor video last year, HBO Should Show Dongs. This CH short made the social media rounds both because it was freakin’ hilarious, and...


Remember Heartbreak High

There’s a famous quote that goes: “There are three types of lies – lies, damn lies, and statistics”. It’s also an apt summary of politics, and Tony Abbott’s latest political back-flip in particular.


He screamed “I hate feminists!” and killed 14 women

“… the feminists always have a talent for enraging me,” wrote Marc Lépine in his suicide note, along with the names of 19 women he wanted to kill. DECEMBER 4, 2014


The Celebrity Who’s Using Social Media For Good

In 2014 alone, there were enough cringeworthy celebrity social media faux pas to keep tabloids in print. From Bill Cosby tweeting “Go ahead. Meme me!” right when he’s been accused of raping 13 women to...


When will we write an obituary for literary sexism?

Colleen McCullough sadly died last week, but instead of celebrating her career as a neurophysiologist and bestselling author, The Australian newspaper turned the tide of conversation with a misogynistic obituary. FEBRUARY 1, 2015

Starting a new relationships after intimate-partner violence

My aunt and uncle got married in December last year. My aunt Helga is 62, my uncle Don 65 and they’d been in a defacto relationship for 31 years and have one daughter together. FEBRUARY...


Is concern for Harper Lee’s mental health ageist?

Hey, Boo: Harper Lee and ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ was a documentary released in 2010, to mark the novel’s 50th anniversary. During an interview, author Anna Quindlen asked “Can you imagine the pressure on Harper...


Things no one tells you about romance readers

Picture a typical romance-reader, somebody who enjoys Harlequin or Mills & Boon titles. Have you got an image of them in your head? Chances are it’s of the bored housewife or lonely cat lady persuasion....


The best way to change gendered reading habits

Do reading challenges designed to promote female authors really help in changing gendered reading habits? APRIL 21, 2015


What Makes a Good Apology?

After three weeks of sustained pressure, Bronwyn Bishop finally apologised to tax payers on Thursday for her $5000 chopper trip. JULY 31, 2015


Stella Prize Schools Blog / Online

#LoveOzYA and the Stella Prize Schools Program

Stella Prize Schools Coordinator Bec Kavanagh once told me that the Schools Program is all about the inclusion of voices, not the exclusion of any. 28TH JULY 2015


Gender-flipping and Twilight

Discussions about gender-flipping have occurred with some regularity over recent years in the American film industry, the source of so much of Australia’s cultural consumption. 19TH NOVEMBER 2015


Why Dystopia is not a Trend

Like vampires, zombies, and ‘sick-lit’ before it, dystopian fiction has been subject to a lot of ‘trend’ talk lately. This sci-fi sub-genre has been crowding bookshelves and film adaptations have been ruling the box office...


Judge the Publishing Industry by Its Covers

In recent years the likes of the Stella Prize and VIDA: Women in Literary Arts have illuminated some of the ways men still dominate the literary world, publishing irrefutable evidence of disparities in review coverage...


Sex in YA

Writer and reviewer Danielle Binks discusses sex and taboos in YA. How far have we come since the release of Judy Blume’s Forever in 1975? 3RD MAY 2016


Women’s Bodies in Speculative Fiction

For her fourth Stella Schools Blog guest post, writer and reviewer Danielle Binks speaks with YA authors about the representation of women characters in fantasy YA, and how they approach the issue in their own...


Mothers In YA

In her latest Stella Schools Blog guest post, writer and reviewer Danielle Binks asks us to take another look at the role of mothers in YA. 28TH SEPTEMBER 2016

Junior Books+Publishing / Print [subscriber/print only]

A Serious Lack

Why are there so few YA books with Indigenous characters? TERM 1, 2013 ISSUE

We Need Diverse Books … in Australia

A US-led campaign to address the lack of diversity in children’s literature has sparked long-overdue conversations in Australia. TERM 2, 2015 ISSUE

Video Created the Publishing Star

A number of high-profile vloggers have recently announced book deals. An investigation into whether or not this trend is taking off in Australia. TERM 3, 2015 ISSUE

YA in Translation

Why is there so little translated YA fiction published in Australia? TERM 4, 2015 ISSUE

Unstuck in the middle: Middle-grade fiction in Australia

Middle-grade children’s fiction is underrepresented— and often misunderstood — in Australian publishing. TERM 2, 2016 ISSUE


The golden age of middle-grade

In the four years since Danielle Binks wrote about the under-representation of middle-grade literature , the genre has exploded. Now a middle-grade author herself, Binks follows up with a look at the subsequent Australian middle-grade...


Newswrite – NSW Writers’ Centre Magazine / Print [subscriber/print only]

Looking Beyond the Labels

Dissecting the New Adult genre. ISSUE 214, APRIL-MAY 2014

More than the Sum of its Award

A look at The Stella Prize three years on. ISSUE 221, JUNE-JULY 2015