14 May 2024 at 10:30 am

Celebrating Dame Wendy Pye, a global education publishing success story

Dame Wendy Pye, founder of New Zealand's Sunshine Books, is sharing her inspiring story on how she became one of the world’s most successful educational publishing exporters in a new podcast series and in her recently released autobiography. 

Dame Wendy 1

New Zealand has a proud history of educational publishing success and Dame Wendy Pye DNZM MBE is the epitome of this, being one of New Zealand’s leading educational publishing exporters. Dame Wendy is sharing her story in her recently launched autobiography: Teaching the World to Read: My multi-million dollar story and podcast series.  

From humble beginnings growing up in Western Australia, Dame Wendy moved to New Zealand to work as a journalist before embarking on her dream to teach the world to read. She founded Sunshine Books 40 years ago and has since sold 300 million books, positively influencing the lives of many children worldwide.  

Dame Wendy with just some of the hundreds of Sunshine books that have helped young children learn to read.

During her extraordinary journey Dame Wendy has gone from attending book fairs with just a handful of books, through providing resources to refugee camps in Lebanon, to working with world leaders. Her reputation for helping to develop young children’s literacy skills has earned her numerous awards including being awarded the Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2013 for services to business and education.  

Dame Wendy at the Bologna book fair in 1989.

Throughout her publishing career, Dame Wendy has pioneered the development of new, exciting, engaging print and digital literacy materials. The Sunshine Online digital programme, for example, contains thousands of texts and activities and was recently included in the New South Wales Department of Education Online Learning Tools Marketplace, which provides quality online learning to all New South Wales schools.  

Dame Wendy with school children using the Sunshine Online digital programme

Dame Wendy’s export story is as much about selling New Zealand as a leader in education teaching and learning pedagogy, as it is about selling educational products and services. Her book and podcast series offer an honest and candid account of the highs, lows, and tough truths of a pioneering entrepreneurIn her book, Dame Wendy talks about some of the challenges she faced, what she learned and how she overcame barriers, while the podcasts include export market guides including hints and tips for success that she has learnt along the way when working in the United Kingdom, South Africa, China and Australia. 

Dame Wendy hopes that her autobiography will inspire, educate and entertain.  

“This is a story about what is possible. It is a story that I hope will inspire all young people who are planning to make a difference to follow their dreams, not to be afraid of failures along the way, and also to celebrate successes with the people who have made them possible,” said Dame Wendy.

With New Zealand publishers and educators in such demand, our small country has made a large impact in the world of education publishing in more than 60 countries around the world.

This thriving industry is represented by PANZ, Publishers Association of New Zealand Te Rau o Tākupu, and is showcased on the New Education Publishers website that was sponsored by Education New Zealand Manapou ki te Ao and Copyright Licensing New Zealand.

You can learn more about New Zealand Publishers or get in touch with them via the New Zealand Educational Publishers (nzeducationalpublishers.org) website. 

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