07 April 2019
Joy Cowley is one of New Zealand’s most prolific and successful writers of children’s books, having written more than 600 titles for all ages.
In the mid-1960s, when one of her sons had difficulty learning to read, Joy wrote stories for him and children with similar difficulties. Some of these were published in the New Zealand School Journals. Many were used as home-made big books in classrooms. By the late 1970s, Joy and editor June Melser were working on the Story Box reading programme, published by Wendy Pye. Since Story Box, Joy has written more than 600 titles.
For almost three decades, Joy has travelled, attending conferences, visiting schools, and running writing workshops for people whose culture has not been adequately represented in their children’s books. She believes that children need to see themselves and their own culture in their literature. Now, in her eighties, she needs to limit travel but she still enjoys contact with children through hundreds of letters each month. “The day I’m not longer in touch with young people, is the day I stop writing for them, because the energy flows from them and goes back to them.”
Joy is a patron and trustee of Storylines, the Children’s Literature Foundation of New Zealand (CLFNZ) and has written a book on writing for children, “Writing from the Heart,” as a fundraiser for Storylines.
When she’s not writing, Joy likes to spend time with her husband Terry, her four children, thirteen grandchildren and great-grandsons Mateo and Ethan. She also enjoys cooking, spinning wool and knitting, painting, playing the piano and any activity to do with the sea.