Frequently Asked Questions

What is Russ the Story Bus?
Russ the Story Bus is Sydney Writers’ Festival’s much-loved ‘library on wheels’. In 2014, Sydney Writers’ Festival transformed an ordinary bus into a bright and colourful creative space decked out with bookshelves (full of the latest children’s books) and spots for kids to read and listen to stories. Russ the Story Bus is a magical place for children that celebrates storytelling, reading and creativity, and fosters that lifelong connection to books that begins in childhood.

Watch a video of Russ the Story Bus in action.

What happens during a Russ the Story Bus visit? 
Students begin their Russ the Story Bus experience by attending an interactive talk from a children’s book author or illustrator. They will share their love of books, discuss their craft and inspire children to think creatively about reading, writing and storytelling. Students are then welcomed onboard Russ the Story Bus by the Sydney Writers’ Festival team. Inside the bus, they can browse a library full of the latest children’s books, listen to stories read by Festival staff, chat to the visiting children’s book author or illustrator and choose a book to take home.

Who are the authors accompanying the tour? 
The full line-up will be released in July 2021.

When is the Russ the Story Bus on tour?
Russ the Story Bus is part of the Children’s Festival of Moving Stories, which will take place throughout Term Four from Monday 11 October to Friday 3 December. 

What is the Children’s Festival of Moving Stories?
The Children’s Festival of Moving Stories is the Sydney Writers’ Festival’s annual tour of schools. The main component of the 2021 program is Russ the Story Bus.

Where is Russ the Story Bus going?
Russ the Story Bus will be travelling throughout Greater Sydney and regional NSW.

How do I book Russ the Story Bus? 
Sydney Writers’ Festival will be selecting schools to take part in the 2021 Russ the Story Bus Tour based on a variety of factors, including location, ICSEA score, FOEI score and number of past visits. The Festival will prioritise government schools, especially those with high enrolments of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, students with refugee backgrounds and students who have recently arrived in Australia.

2021 expressions of interest are now closed, but to ensure you are on the waitlist, please fill out the expression of interest form on our website.

How should our school prepare for Russ the Story Bus to visit?
In the months leading up to your confirmed visit from Russ, the Tour Manager will contact you to discuss the details of your visit and ensure that everything will run smoothly on the day. You will also be sent some information about the visiting author or illustrator, as well as some activity sheets and classrooms ideas that you are welcome to make use of.

Who participates in a Russ the Story Bus visit?
Up to 220 students from each school are able to take part in a Russ the Story Bus visit. Sydney Writers’ Festival intends this program to involve whole classes and year groups. Please note, requests for a small number of students to attend from multiple classes will not be granted by the Tour Manager. The decision regarding which classes and year groups will participate in the visit will be agreed on in advance between the school and Festival. The Festival cannot guarantee that late additions to the tour schedule will be accommodated.

How long will Russ the Story Bus be at our school on the day? 
Russ visits one school per day. Festival staff will arrive one hour before the school day begins and depart by 3pm. Where possible, Russ will arrive at your school the afternoon beforehand so that he is in place for the following day’s visit.

What is involved in a Russ the Story Bus visit?
Russ the Story Bus will visit your school with an Australian children’s author or illustrator. Each participating student will take part in one of two author presentations as well as visit Russ the Story Bus to select one of the many brand-new books he holds to take home.

What does a Russ the Story Bus visit cost?
As a free program, a visit from Russ the Bus comes at no cost to the students or to the school. We do ask that all participating schools complete an online evaluation after the visit as part of the program.

What year levels is Russ the Story Bus suitable for? 
A visit from Russ the Story Bus is suitable for primary-aged children (from Kindergarten to Year 6). Sydney Writers’ Festival will work with the school to ensure that the visiting author is speaking to an age group that is suited to their work.

How many students can visit Russ the Story Bus?
A class of 30 students usually takes 20–30 minutes to each select a book. Sydney Writers’ Festival will work with you to organise a schedule for the day to ensure that all participating students have ample time to visit Russ and select their free book.

Who manages the visit?
Sydney Writers’ Festival staff work alongside your nominated teacher or teacher-librarian school representative to coordinate the visit. Our Tour Manager will be in touch beforehand to confirm all the details. It is expected that each class visiting will be accompanied by their classroom teacher or another teacher familiar with their individual reading abilities.

Do Sydney Writers’ Festival staff have a Working With Children Check?  
It is a requirement that all Sydney Writers’ Festival staff and volunteers have a Working With Children Check to be part of this program.

Where does Russ the Story Bus park? 
It is Sydney Writers’ Festival’s preference that Russ the Story Bus enters school grounds for the duration of the visit. However, Russ can park outside the school grounds if required.

What does our school need to provide for a Russ the Story Bus author visit?
The author/illustrator’s presentation will need to be held in a school hall or library that has access to a projector or smart board, and a microphone.

Will there be a Risk Assessment provided? 
We will provide a Risk Assessment and Working With Children Checks for all staff and volunteers attending your school. Our Russ the Story Bus Tour Manager will be in contact before your visit; please let them know if you require any specific risk or compliance documents. 

Who designed the Russ the Story Bus exterior?
Each year, Russ the Story Bus is adorned in colourful illustrations by one of Australia’s best children’s book illustrators.

My students have special access requirements. Who shall I speak to? 
During the confirmation and booking process, there will be an opportunity to discuss any special access requirements you or your students may have. If you have any questions, please contact our Head of Children’s and YA Programs, Amelia Lush, via email at amelia@swf.org.au.

Is the Festival going to photograph my students?  
The Sydney Writers’ Festival employs the services of a professional photographer to capture selected Russ the Story Bus visits. These photos are for archival and marketing purposes only. The booking of a Russ the Story Bus visit grants permission for these photos to be used for these intended purposes. Sydney Writers’ Festival will also let you know in advance if photographs are expected to be taken. If you, or any students in your care, do not wish to be photographed, please inform the photographer or a Sydney Writers’ Festival staff member.

Who designed the interior of Russ the Story Bus? 
The interior of Russ the Story Bus was designed by award-winning architectural firm LAVA.

Terms and Conditions 

The services that will be provided by the Sydney Writers’ Festival are: 
a. A visit by our travelling 12-metre-long story bus.
b. One children’s author or illustrator will conduct two 40-minute talks for students at your school.
c. If needed, two 3-metre by 3-metre marquees will be set up by the Sydney Writers’ Festival and weighed down accordingly.
d. The bus will arrive at the site the afternoon before the visit, or if necessary, one hour before the commencement of the day’s program. Sydney Writers’ Festival staff require 30 minutes to pack down Russ the Story Bus at the end of the visit.
e. Sydney Writers’ Festival holds an insurance certificate of currency for Public Liability.
f. Assurance that all the Sydney Writers’ Festival staff and volunteers have valid Working with Children Checks. 
g. Two staff members to manage Russ the Story Bus operations, which includes a driver and onboard management.

The services that will be provided by your school are: 

a. Teachers to supervise and manage the children entering and exiting Russ the Story Bus.
b. Teachers to ensure students select books that are suitable and not too far above their reading level.  
c. Teachers to make Sydney Writer’s Festival staff aware of any students who do not have permission to be photographed.
d. Teachers to maintain order on Russ the Story Bus.
e. A suitable location on school grounds, or a safe parking space away from traffic, for Russ the Story Bus to park.
f. Provide accurate contact information to the Sydney Writers’ Festival so that the Russ the Story Bus team can reach the correct school contacts.
g. Provide an internal location for the author/illustrator talk with access to a microphone, and a smart board or projector.

Indemnities:
Each organisation releases and holds harmless the other party, including its respective officers, agents and employees, from and against all claims, damages, liabilities, costs and expenses (including any reasonable legal costs and expenses) incurred or suffered by or arising out of, in connection with, or incidental to the acts, or omissions (other than those involving negligence or wilful default) of either party, its agents or representatives in connection with the Sydney Writers’ Festival or this memorandum.