A User’s Guide to a Pandemic

A User’s Guide to a Pandemic was an idea that started during the national lockdown earlier in 2020.

The idea was simple – that young people needed to write about this.

So, four writing centres for young people across the country got together – Story Factory (NSW – that’s us!), 100 Story Building (Melbourne), The Story Island Project (Tasmania) and StoryBoard (Byron Bay) and created A User’s Guide to a Pandemic – a writing project that amplified the voices of young people during the uncertainty and disconnection of the pandemic.

Students wrote in their own time or participated in online workshops, and created pieces of writing that investigate the challenges, the unexpected joys, the boredom, worries and hopes of these unusual times.

What they’ve created is truly extraordinary. A book written entirely by Australian young people during the weirdest year of their lives. It’s full of joy, wisdom, imagination and truth – just like them.

PS Did we say written entirely? Well, almost. We made an exception for the Introduction. Markus Zusak (author of The Book Thief and international bestseller for over a decade) did the honours. What a legend. Check it out through the link above!

PPS While every student who submitted work was published in the book, not every single thing that they wrote made it in. BUT, it’s way too good for us not to share, so we’ve compiled every single thing that was submitted at the link below.

A User’s Guide to a Pandemic, proudly brought to you by:

Supported by:

Proudly funded by the NSW Government

“The air around Astrid was infused with an aromatic mist of industrial candy cane, accompanying the grapefruit-tinged tangerine sky. “

Saniah, aged 15

“Nobody enjoys Zoom meetings, including me. All we do is stare at teachers, who talk for hours and hours, later realising that nobody was even listening to their lecture. “

Leo, aged 15

“Freedom is the ringing of bells at any school. A signal that better times are soon to come. Fear is the green slip of an arvo. A sign that you might be better off if you run.” 

Ibrahim, aged 17
“A User’s Guide to a Pandemic is everything it should be: enlightening, frightening, and containing death-defyingly good writing from Story Factory students. And I should also add, definitely hilarious. In times of need, turning to the writing of children is so often the answer…”
– Markus Zusak