David Riley is a children’s writer, teacher, playwright, reading advocate, youth mentor and educational specialist. Publishing his books through Reading Warrior, David aims to get reluctant readers reading by providing exciting books about Kiwi and Pacific Island heroes, sporting stars, and inspirational cultural icons. An award-winning author, David won the non-fiction Storylines Notable Books Award in 2016 for two of his publications, Jammin’ with Steven Adams and Samoan Heroes.
Riley, David (1966 - ) is a children’s writer who publishes books for reluctant young readers. As well as being a prolific writer and self-publisher, David is also a respected specialist teacher Drama teacher at Tangaroa College in Otara, where he has taught since 1997. He lives in Manukau with his wife and two daughters.
David’s writing is inspired by the experience of living and growing up within multicultural and vibrant South Auckland. After attending Auckland University where he graduated with a Masters of Social Anthropology, he went on to study at Auckland College of Education. In 2013 he founded Reading Warrior, through which David publishes resources that encourage students to learn about their own culture, support literacy achievement, and inspire through stories of positive cultural and sporting role models.
In 2012 David published his first book We Are the Rock through Little Island Press. The idea for the book arose when two of his Niuean students told David they did not know of any Niuean heroes. David found this was true: after researching online he discovered there were no publications about Niuean heroes that targeted young people. Setting out to fill the gap, We are the Rock is the story of multiple inspirational Niueans. Pacific Island Correspondent Michael Field reviewed We Are the Rock on Nine to Noon as a ‘beautiful little thing’ (Radio NZ, 26 May, 2012). Inspired by Alan Duff’s Māori Heroes, David has since published Samoan Heroes (2015), Tongan Heroes (2016) and Cook Island Heroes (2017), all through Reading Warrior.
Encouraged by the positive response to We are the Rock, David sought to publish further books which would inspire and appeal to his students. After setting up his self-funded publishing company Reading Warrior in 2013, David published Steppin’ with Benji Marshall the same year.
Finding that sporting books were popular with his students, particularly the boys, David has since published Off Loading with Sonny Bill Williams (2014); Jammin’ with Steven Adams (2015); Rugby: The History (2015); Rugby: The Players (2015); Golden Kiwis (2016); Olympic Islands, and Kickin’ it with Winston Reid. His most recent publication is Powering up with Joseph Parker, the inspiring story about the heavyweight boxing champion Joseph Parker from South Auckland.
An award-winning writer, David’s playscript Rock Bottom was shortlisted in Playmarket’s Plays for the Young awards in 2010. Off Loading with Sonny Bill Williams was placed on the 2015 LIANZA Children’s Book Awards longlist. Both Jammin’ with Steven Adams and Samoan Heroes won the non-fiction Storylines Notable Book Award for 2016.
In the first of a ‘Reading All Stars’ series for people who need support with reading, Gold! (2016) tells the story of New Zealand Olympic gold medal winners. Published in the same series are books about Sonny Bill, Joseph Parker, Steven Adams and Winston Reid. Two workbooks, Read to Succeed with the Warriors and Read and Achieve with the All Blacks, are designed to help young people improve their reading and comprehension skills.
Media Links and Clips
- David’s publishing website Reading Warrior
- David’s blog
- 2016 interview by Valley Wandstraat for E-TANGATA
- David’s profile on Storylines
- 2015 interview with Kathryn Ryan for Nine to Noon on Radio NZ
- 2015 report for Pacific Waves on Radio NZ for the launch of Samoan Heroes
- Reviews by John McIntyre of The Children’s Bookshop
Updated March 2022.