Keynote Presentations

Note ‐ Most of the presentations following can be adapted to full or part day workshops, where participants can be part of the story development process, and can be adapted for school students (up to lower secondary) or presented to adults. Many can also be presented to a variety of audiences thus for parents, for teachers or for students.

Over the last 20 years Christopher has presented at many book festivals and professional conferences, seminars and in schools and libraries in Australia and overseas. Presentations can be:

  • A talk about the creative process and Christopher’s amazingly varied life
  • A talk to enthuse and engage students about reading or the writing process
  • A Personal Development session for teachers and librarians that will engage and inspire them to be active participants in the children’s reading and writing
  • A presentation to parents that will assist them in their involvement with their children’s reading

Creating Books in the Digital Age

eBooks. Some people love them; other people are scared of them. As a full time children’s author and co‐director of a digital publishing company (that produces eBooks and also reproduces the eBooks as printed books) Christopher will discuss his thoughts on eBooks and apps and how we can embrace this new medium of reading – and writing.

Writing for Many Ages

Using examples from his work, this presentation examines some of the different genres of writing for children that Christopher has undertaken, including picture books, historical fiction and non‐fiction, and will investigate the different structures, thoughts and processes that are involved in writing for different ages. Ideas such as what the writer needs to think of for each genre, the character voice, what the reader will anticipate, questions to ask yourself, common mistakes, understanding the different markets and genres, will all be explored.

Writing for Life from Life

Christopher’s life has included working in zoos, teaching, dwelling in a science laboratory and travelling through many parts of the world. All of these have been influential in crafting his work. This presentation will show how these life experiences have influenced his writing – and how life experiences can be utilised by any writer.

Transforming Facts into Riveting Reading

Christopher has created picture books, historical fiction, narrative non fiction and non fiction works that are all based on facts. Using examples from his wide range of work that includes: riots against the Chinese miners and also the White Australia Policy / Immigration Restriction Act (historical fiction); the life of a python (narrative non fiction picture book), and the amazing natural history of animals (non‐fiction reference books), Christopher will demonstrate how he has transformed the facts into absorbing and inspiring works that are unforgettable reads.

Writing For Children ‐ Finding the Child in You

For more than 20 years Christopher has been writing for children, first as a hobby and now as a fulltime children’s author. This presentation will investigate writing for children that includes the skills and knowledge required, the market today, finding the story to write, questions to ask, creating believable characters, what children want to read, how children talk and what they are saying, planning and plotting the work, making your work stand out from the rest, creating a riveting read, creating the fiction from observing the real, and finding the child in you.

The Writer Creating Picture Books

A picture book isn’t just illustrations accompanying a text or a text accompanying illustrations but a wonderful intertwining of the two. This presentation will look at the creation of picture books, especially from the author’s perspective. Drawing on examples from his works Christopher will discuss how he created the different genres of his picture books (narrative non‐fiction, fiction, and rhyming texts). The session investigates ways of finding the story, ideas and inspiration, creating storyboards, structuring the narrative, developing the facts, creating a dummy – even for authors – understanding the picture book, and investigating digital picture books.

Writing Non Fiction

Taking the facts and creating exciting books that come alive and that children will want to read again and again is vital. Using examples from his works Christopher will demonstrate how he has transformed slices of facts from the historical or natural worlds to create different genres of books for children including picture books, historical fiction, and narrative fiction and non‐fiction. Researching the background information, creating the character voice, engaging the reader, crafting the text, presenting the information, supplementary and accompanying images, planning and plotting are some of the processes that will be discussed.

Historians Are Storytellers

They take a pile of raw data, old newspapers, shipping lists, or ephemera like theatre programs and ticket stubs, and they turn it into a tale. In this talk Christopher, who did not enjoy history at school, presents some of his research and discusses the process that he went through to create his historical fiction titles. He will talk about some of the truths (and not‐so truths) discovered and the inspiration behind the creation of some of the titles. Whether you’re interested in local history, family history, the history of people, places, or things or just want to hear an author talk about his creative processes Christopher’s talk will show how he made history come to life.

I Said Yes!

What started out as a hobby (as a school teacher Christopher had the best job in the world) has now become a full time job – and IS the best job in the world. Christopher has worked in education in zoos, presented on television, worked in an underground science laboratory, been a bookseller for a national book chain, has sung to monkeys in zoo enclosures, read books with Education Ministers, written a libretto for a children’s musical … and a heap more. For all of these he said YES and they all have been part of his writing adventure. In this funny and inspiring presentation Christopher shows how he is able to continue his life as a children’s writer – simply by saying YES!

Successful School and Library Visits

For more than 20 years Christopher has been visiting schools and libraries conducting residencies and workshops, inspiring students and teachers about all things to do with kids’ books and writing. In this presentation Christopher outlines some of the essential tasks that must be undertaken for a successful school visit for the visiting author or illustrator and also for the school. He will include issues such as marketing and self promotion, school / library preparation, equipment requirements and, along the way touch on a few of the things that might go wrong.

Book Trailers

What are they? Are they really that good? Do they help the children read? Christopher will also discuss his thoughts on the creation of book trailers and their importance in promoting books. He will also present some of the best ones that are out there that he has seen.

Help Your Child to Read

With so many books out there how can parents and care givers know which ones to pick? How can they help children read? How can we learn to love reading? Why the need to read? These are some of the questions posed to Christopher on a regular basis in many of the talks that he presents as one of the National Ambassadors for 2012 National Year of Reading and also when presenting at conferences. In this presentation Christopher will discuss some of his thoughts and processes and also present some of the great Australian children’s books that have come across his desk in recent months that might just spark that reading bug!

Literature or Literacy ‐ Using Books in the Classroom

Using some of the recently published books Christopher will explore the titles from the written, visual and literary focus supporting a literature based classroom.

About …

CHRISTOPHER CHENG is the author of picture books, historical novels, and non‐fiction titles. He spent 8 years as Education Officer at Taronga Zoo and has a broad knowledge of animal antics. He is co‐chair of the International Advisory board for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (the largest professional organisation for children’s authors and illustrators) and on the international Advisory board for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content. He is also co‐director of a digital publishing company creating eBooks and apps for children and toddlers. He regularly presents at festivals and conferences around the world on all things to do with kids’ books and reading. In 2012 he is one of the National Ambassadors for 2012 National Year of Reading … and he has the best job in the world!


Recent appearances include

  • Ghumakkad Narain Festival (Dehradun, India)
  • SCBWI Summer Conference (USA)
  • SCBWI International Conference (Australia)
  • SCBWI Bologna (Italy)
  • Asian Festival of Children’s Content (Singapore)
  • Manila Literary Festival (Philippines)
  • Bookaroo (India)
  • Hong Kong Young Readers Festival (Hong Kong)
  • Voices on the Coast (Queensland‐ Australia)
  • Ipswich Literary Festival (Queensland‐ Australia)
For Comments about Christopher’s presentations see the Testimonials page.