A User's Guide to a Pandemic

“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

A User’s Guide to a Pandemic was an idea that started during the national lockdown in 2020. The idea was simple – that young people needed to write about this.

Four writing centres for young people across the country joined 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 investigated the challenges, the unexpected joys, the boredom, worries and hopes of the pandemic.

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.

You can buy a beautiful printed copy of this treasure-trove of writing in the Story Factory bookshop.

PS Did we say written entirely? Well, almost. We made an exception for the Introduction. Markus Zusak (author of The Book Thief, an 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 all way too good for us not to share, so we’ve compiled every single thing that was submitted at the link below.

“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, proudly supported by:

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Stories from this Program

Sensations Through Nature

By Eva

A flower blooms, opens up to the sun, breathes in the warm rays of daylight. Nurtured by the moist soil, admired by crawling garden creatures. Brought to life by the...

(Untitled)

By Clarissa

I WAS ALWAYS rushing. Rushing between bed and breakfast, rushing between one bit of cereal to another, rushing for the train in the next two minutes, rushing to live. Life...

(Untitled)

By Herman

Independence is the mice against the unnerving winds. Gratitude is the clouds above us, unreachable and uninterpretable Euphoria is being immersed in the treacherous and daring depths of life. Resilience...

Untitled

By Ruya

THE SUN FLOATED through the window and stirred the dust as it lit up the pages of her book. It lit up the folds in the pages, the sagging spine,...

I Survived Online School!

By Leo, Year 9

‘More online school…I really hate it.’ I opened my eyes and stared at the usual old white ceiling. It is always the same ceiling, no colour change, no added texture, just the same old boring one. I groaned.

A Zap of Illuminating Cyan

By Saniah, Year 9

With a zap of illuminating cyan Astrid’s cognitive implants summoned a platinum-glazed automobile; levitating, luminous and in all its glory.

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Are you looking for a way to make a difference in 2022, all from the comfort of your home?  In the new year we'll have more flexible volunteering opportunities available via Zoom. By becoming a Story Factory Digital Tutor in the new year, you’ll be able to help our primary students find their voice and share their stories. 
Find out more on our website: 
https://www.storyfactory.org.au/volunteer
Parramatta’s Female Factory Institutions Precinct, tucked into a particularly picturesque corner of Parramatta, is a place rich in history and memory. It’s a history that our program this year connected with - inviting students to consider the living traces of that history around them.  The results we collected into an especially beautiful publication, available now in our bookstore, featuring full colour art prints and poems created by our students.  Buy at https://shop.storyfactory.org.au/
The class of 2021! These miraculous young people, in the midst of disrupted learning and all the stress of 2021, somehow have written a novella or poetry chapbook as part of our Year of Poetry and Year of the Novella year-long programs.  Their words are as beautiful, moving, funny and wise and they are. We actually couldn’t be more proud.  Today we celebrate them and their manifold achievements.
We're thrilled to share that with the support of Clarity Pharmaceuticals we are recruiting a dedicated Indigenous Storyteller to deliver high- impact, term-length writing programs supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island young people  Clarity Pharmaceuticals Executive Chairman, Dr Alan Taylor, said he was excited to support Story Factory after growing up in community housing in the Redfern area.  ‘My grandparents, after immigrating from Europe after the war, were some of the first people to move into the McKell housing commission units in the early 1960s and lived there until the 90s. And my earliest memories as a child were living on the 14th floor of the Daniel Solander building in the Waterloo Housing Complex. This experience has given me a unique understanding of the area compared to many of my peers, especially of some of the difficulties some children face through no fault of their own, whether it is a lack of resources, or not knowing where opportunities lie.'  READ MORE: https://www.storyfactory.org.au/local-kid-gives-back-to-his-community/