This booklist details the text books personally recommended by Speech New Zealand examiners.


Information about the titles


New Zealand Literature

  • Evans, Patrick. (2007). The Long Forgetting: Post-Colonial Literary Culture in New Zealand. 9781877257698
    An examination of post-colonial literary culture, beginning with economic, social and cultural changes that occured after 1970, then moving back to the 19th century and the formation of Europeans’ relationship with Maori.

  • Jackson, Anna et al. (2011). A Made-up Place: New Zealand In Young Adult Fiction. 9780864736970
    Breaks down the components of contemporary young adult literature in New Zealand to determine what sets it apart from the rest of the world.

  • Mercer, Erin. (2017). Telling the Real Story: Genre and New Zealand Literature. 9781776560851
    Exposes the interplay of realism, Gothic, fantasy, romance and melodrama within New Zealand narratives and demonstrates that the apparently realist monolith of the national interest is infinitely more diverse than it may seem.

  • Stafford, Jane. (2006). Maoriland: New Zealand Literature 1872-1914. 9780864735225
    An examination of the beginnings of a New Zealand literature.

  • Strum, Terry (ed.) (1998). The Oxford History of New Zealand Literature in English.  9780195583854
    Most comprehensive and authoritative literary history of New Zealand.  Extensive bibliography, chapters on History, Poetry, Novel, Drama, Short Story.

  • Williams, Mark (ed.) (2016). A History of New Zealand Literature. 9781107085350
    Scholarly essays, arranged thematically.


  • Barnard, Robert. (1994). A Short History of English Literature. 9780631190882
    A concise “easy to read” texts for teens studying different genre.  A basic test which sets the scene for deeper study.

  • Payne, Tom. (1997). The A-Z of Great Writers. 9781858338149
    Brief thumbnail sketches of authors’ lives, including several foreign and some lesser known.  Includes photos and list of works.  Covers 396 works – English, European, American, International.



  • Claybourne, Anna and Treays, Rebecca. (1996). The World of Shakespeare. 9780746024546
    A delightful overview of Shakespeare’s time and his major plays with simple synopses – illustrated. 

  • McAllister, Angela. (2018). A Stage Full of Shakespeare Stories.9781786031143.
    A wonderful, accessible introduction to the stories.

  • Williams, Marcia. (2000). Mr William Shakespeare’s Plays: Seven Plays. 9781406323344
    Comic book – Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, Winter’s Tale, Julius Caesar, The Tempest – fun, and good overview.


  • Andrews, Richard and Gibson, Rex (eds.) Hamlet. (1998). 9780521434942
    One of the Cambridge School series (most of Shakespeare’s plays are covered).  Arises out of research and development of the Shakespeare and Schools project.  Includes running synopsis and explanation of words.

  • Bloom, Harold. (1994) Shakespeare – The Invention of the Human.  9780521434942
    Argues that Shakespeare, our greatest and wittiest writer, invented ‘humanity’ as we know it.  Covers all the plays, provocative interpretation reveals how Shakespeare will continue to explain us – rich in asides.

  • Clark, Sandra. (1993). The Hutchinson Shakespeare Dictionary. 9780099913207
    An A-Z Guide to Shakespeare’s Plays, Characters and Contemporaries.

  • Cook, Judith. (1980). Women in Shakespeare. 9780245536311.
    Helpful insight to major female characters in the work of William Shakespeare.  Commentary contrasts and compares the roles.  Background reading to successful understanding and performance.

  • Diehn, Andi. (2016). Shakespeare: Investigate the Bard’s Influence on Today’s World. 9781619304512
    Readers deconstruct Shakespearean themes, imagery, language, and meaning by finding familiar ground on which to gain literary insight. Hands-on projects such as coding a video game based on one of Shakespeare’s plays to rewriting a scene in the text language of emoji,etc.

  • Edmondson, Paul. (2015). Shakespeare: An Introduction. 9781781253373
    Presents Shakespeare as work to be spoken, as well as read; introduction to Shakespeare’s life and writing.

  • Gill, Richard. (1998). Mastering Shakespeare. 9780333698730
    This book supplies detailed studies of important scenes from Shakespeare’s most popular plays. 

  • Trewin, J.C. (2013). The Pocket Companion to Shakespeare’s Plays. 9780753724514
     A synopsis of each play with characters, story, performance notes, film notes.  Includes Shakespeare’s life, poems, glossary.  Valuable reference work.



  • Berry, James (ed.) (2003). Poems to Read Aloud. 9780753456880
    Lovely categories including “magical”and “mirthful”; also has poems from many countries. Useful for choosing poems for performance.

  • Bornholdt, Jenny; O’Brien, Gregory;& Williams, Mark (eds.) (1998). An Anthology of New Zealand Poetry in English. 9780195584370
    A diverse collection of New Zealand poetry spanning more than a century.  Major poets are acknowledged, along with a range of unique poets encompassing a range of styles and forms.

  • Foster, John. (2000). I’m in a Mood Today – Poems about Feelings. 9780192762306
    Collection of poems involved with feelings including being in a bad mood, family, relationships, bullying, dyslexia, sulking, caring, loneliness, left out – etc. etc.

  • Johnston, Andrew &Marsack, Robyn (2009). Twenty Contemporary New Zealand Poets. 9781857549768
    Poetry from 1986 onwards.

Other poetry booksIntermediate

  • Patten, Brian. The Puffin Book of Utterly Brilliant Poetry

  • Harrison, Michael and Stuart-Clark, Christopher. One Hundred Years of Poetry for Children.

  • Curry, Jennifer. Family Poems

  • Crew, Gary & Smith, Craig. (1998). Troy Thompson’s Excellent Peotry Book. 9780987082701
    Fun, colourful book. Teacher’s assignment on one page, “Troy’s” work on the other. A good introduction to poetry styles.


  • Le Bas, Jessica. Incognito

  • Turner, Brian. Elemental Central Otago Poems

  • Sewell, Bill and Edmond, Lauris. Essential New Zealand Poems

  • Colquhoun, Glen. Playing God

  • Hall, Bernadette. Ponies

  • Stallworthy, Jon. Anthem For Doomed Youth Twelve Soldier Poets of the First World War

  • Manhire, Bill. 100 New Zealand Poems

  • Sadler Hayllar Powell. Appreciating Poetry

  • Law, Robin and Murray, Heather. Under Flagstaff: An Anthology of Dunedin Poetry

  • Marsh, Tusitalia. Dark Sparring Poems

  • Green, Paula. Wild Honey: Reading New Zealand Women’s Poetry. 9780995113596
    The book’s chapters follow the structure of a house, with different poets being discussed and assessed in each of the house’s rooms.

  • Green, Paula & Ricketts, Harry. (2010). 99 Ways Into New Zealand Poetry. 9781869791780
    Lively and accessible introduction to New Zealand poetry.

  • Hill, David. (1984). On Poetry: Twelve Studies of Work by New Zealand poets. 9780868636610
    Informative text on twelve poets and their verse.  An old but valuable book.

  • Schmidt, Michael. (2000). Lives of the Poets. 9780375706042
    Poets grouped from Chaucer to 1998.  Good life background and good analysis of poets’ works.

  • Stallworthy, Jon. (2005). An Anthem for Doomed Youth: Twelve Solider Poets of the First World War. 9781845292218
    Tells the story of the lives and works of twelve major soldier poets from WWI.

  • Strand, Mark & Boland, Eavan. (eds.) The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms. 9780375706042
    Looks at poetic forms; gives history and explanations of each form; offers a selection of exemplars.

  • Dear To Me - 100 New Zealanders Write About Their Favourite Poems. Amnesty International. Random House

Theatre and Drama

  • Murray, Sue. Real Drama - A Collection of 10 Plays

  • Murray, Sue. Big Dramas

  • Farrell, Fiona and Boock, Paula. Song of the Shirt

  • Shakespeare, W and Betts, J. Ophelia Thinks Harder

  • Smith, Briar. Nga Pou Wahine

  • Lewis, Justin and Rajan, Jacob. Indian Ink


  • Boagey, Eric. (1996). Starting Drama. 9780713526813
    Speaks directly to the younger students giving a helpful guide as a text and encouragement to delve further – an excellent “starting point”.

  • Marlow, Jean. (2008). Audition Speeches for 6-16 Year Olds.  9780713687729 
    Over 50 speeches to suit a wide range of ages and abilities.  Each speech has a short introduction and brief outline of the story so far.


  • Adler, Stella. (1990) The Technique of Acting. 9780553349320
    Guide to the technique of acting taught in Adler’s studio with exercises and examples.

  • Barkworth, Peter. (1991). About Acting. 9780413661104
    Covers acting techniques through preparation, rehearsals, actor homework, performance, filming and loads more.  Includes interviews with well-known actors.  Detailed contents and useful index.  Easy to follow, extremely practical and useful material.

  • Berry, Cecily. (1987). The Actor and His Text. 9780684189376
    Loaded with ideas of how to bring text to life.  Examples mainly drawn from Shakespeare but these adapt to verse or other modern scripts.  Both practical and academic.

  • Burton, Bruce. (2011). Living Drama. 9781442533882 
    Improvisation and Drama Exercises.  History of Drama.

  • Crawford, Jerry L., Hurst, Catherine & Lugering, Michael (2010). Acting in Person and in Style. 9781577666646
    Designed to assist developing actors at university level.  Part I rooted in principles of Stanislavsky.  Parts II and III theatre history and specialisation of style. 

  • Hornbrook, David (ed.) (1998). On the Subject of Drama. 9780415168823
    Challenging ideas on modern theatre techniques.

  • Morrison, Malcolm. (1995). Classical Acting. 9780713640472  
    The acting process, research, movement, voice, for classical drama.

  • Rodenberg, Patsy. The Actor Speaks: Voice and the Performer. 9780312295141
    Full of ideas and inspiration to extend vocal ability in relation to text.

Acting and Directing


  • Evans, Cheryl & Smith, Lucy. Acting & Theatre. 9780746006993
    Many aspects of theatre are covered in this basic, highly illustrated book.  It explains a little history, how actors train, and a range of activities for the actors.


  • Banks, R.A. and Marson, Pauline (ed.). (1998). Drama and Theatre Arts. 9780340711781
    Discusses dramas period by period, within historical context, plus chapters on creating drama and analysing drama.

  • Bernard, Ian. (1998). Film and Television Acting. 9780240803012
    Methodically examines the techniques of acting for camera and shows how they differ from stage acting.

  • Catron, Louis E. & Shattuck, Scott. The Director’s Vision: Play Direction from Analysis to Production. 9781478611257
    Play Direction from Analysis to Production.  A textbook, which includes practical exercises.  Can be used as a full guide or dipped into for inspiration or reference.

  • Hartnoll, Phyllis. (2012). The Theatre: A Concise History. 9780500204092
    Development of the theatre covered in detail with colourful illustrations. Clear, easy to read text. 

  • Hodge, Francis. (2015). Play Directing: Analysis, Communication and Style. 9780205571246
    Information, practical know-how, ideas, inspiration, along with exercises that could be used in classroom or studio – or for self-development.

  • Hunter, Gwen & Priest, Elizabeth. (1997). Greek Drama. 9780582879850
    Good resume of Greek drama with follow-up research exercises.

  • Novak, Elaine Adams. (1985). Styles of Acting: A Scenebook for Aspiring Actors. 9780138587963 
    Creative tools for looking at styles of acting from Greeks to modern experimental.  Contains a brief overview of major playwriting, acting and production styles (then and now) along with scenes.

  • Rudlin, John. (1994) Commedia Dell’Arte. 9780415047708
    An illuminating account of Commedia’s origins plus a practical step-by-step guide to use Commedia techniques in performance.



  • Smith, Chris. (2014). The Storytelling School: Handbook for Teachers. 9781907359385
    Discusses learning how to tell stories, how to use stories in their teaching and how to teach children to tell their own stories with easy to use methods


  • Karia, Akash. (2015). TED Talks Storytelling: 23 Storytelling Techniques from the Best TED talks. 9781507503003.
    An examination of how storytelling can be used in public speaking.

  • Storr, Will. (2019). The Science of Storytelling. 9780008276935
    Applies psychological and neuroscientific research to the foundations of our myths and archetypes, showing how we can use these tools to tell better stories and make sense of the modern world.


  • Atkins, Greg. (1993). Improv! A Handbook for Actors. 9780435086275
    An extensive collection of 150 exercises to liberate spontaneity, enhance creativity and encourage students to think quickly on their feet.

  • Bernardi, Philip. (1992). Improvisation Starters. 9781558702332
    Nine hundred starters – great for when the creative process dries up.  Good for role plays, storytelling as well.  Easily adapted.

  • Jackson, Paul Z. (1998). Impro Learning. 0566079283
    Training book drawing on sources as diverse as theatre, accelerated learning, sports, co-operative games and psychology.  Makes training creative, flexible, spontaneous.

  • Matthews, Steve. (1998). Getting into the Act: Communication Through Drama. 9780477014007
    Contains over 200 drama and action games, divided into areas; e.g. icebreakers, trust, etc.

  • Pierse, Lyn. (1997). Theatre Sports Down Under. 9780646238616  
    A great guide for coaches and players of Theatre Sports.

  • Theodorou, Michael. (1990). Ideas That Work in Drama. 9780748702251
    Ideal for secondary school drama teaching.  Ages suggested for stimulating springboard ideas.

Public Speaking

Anthologies of Speeches

  • Burnet, Andrew (ed.) (2016). 50 Speeches that Made the Modern World. 9781473640948
    A celebration of the most influential and thought-provoking speeches that shaped the modern world.

  • Copeland, Lewis, Lamm, Laurence W. & McKenna, Brian (eds.) (1999). The World’s Great Speeches.9780486409030
    278 Speeches from 230 Speakers

  • Coughlin, Debbie. (2019) Outspoken: 50 Speeches by Incredible Women: From Boudicaa to Michelle Obama. 9780753554050
    A celebration of outstanding and outspoken women and their words.

  • MacArthur, Brian. (2013). The Penguin Book of Historic Speeches. 9780241953266
    Brings together the words of over 100 men and women who helped to change the world through the power of their oratory.

  • Safire, William (ed.) (2004). Lend me Your Ears: Great Speeches in History. 9780393059311
    More than 200 pieces of outstanding oratory.

  • Sebag Montefiore, Simon. (2019). Voices of History: Speeches that Changed the World. 9781474609920
    Celebrates great speeches of history and world culture.

  • Williams, Hywel. (2009). In Our Time: The Speeches that Shaped the Modern World. 9781847249197
    Brings together 50 of the most important speeches post-1945.


  • Grant, Ian. Communicate - How to Speak Well in Public and Private.

  • Atkinson, Max. (1984). Our Masters’ Voices: Language and Body Language of Politics. 9780415018753
    A study of the art of effective political persuasion.

  • Blakenship, Jane. (1968). A Sense of Style: Introduction to Style for the Public Speaker.  9780822175506
    Gives an understanding of resources of language, word choice, rhetorically effective sentences, oral style, activities to improve style. 

  • Buckley, Reid. (1999). Strictly Speaking. 9780071346108
    Shows how to clarify our thinking; master the mechanics of voice, expression and delivery; compose a lucid and compelling talk in decent English.

  • Collins, Philip. (2017). When They Go Low, We Go High: Great Speeches and Why We Need Them. 9780008235697
    Analysis of 25 great speeches by Pericles, Lincoln, Emmeline Pankhurst, Churchill, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and others, demonstrating how oratory can create a sense of national identity, give voice to the people, and establish peace in place of war.

  • D’Arcy, Jan. (1998). Technically Speaking: A Guide to Communicating Complex Information. 9781574770513.
    Describes a 10-step approach to the process of researching, organizing, and presenting complex information, with chapters on analysing an audience, creating low-and high-tech visuals, using humour, video conferencing, and communicating to international audiences.

  • DeVito, Joseph A. (2013). Interpersonal Messages. 9780205931927
    Provides a foundation for students to understand the concepts of interpersonal communication and to develop the necessary skills to apply what they have learned through comprehensive coverage, exercises, and real life examples.

  • Dowis, Richard. (2000). The Lost Art of the Great Speech: How to Write One, How to Deliver It. 9780814470541
    This authoritative speech-writing guide covers every essential element of a great speech, including outlining and organising, beginning with a bang, making use of action verbs and vivid nouns, and handling questions from the audience.

  • Lucas, Stephen E. (2011). The Art of Public Speaking. 978-0077778019
    With a strong focus on the practical skills of public speaking and grounded in classical and contemporary theories of rhetoric, offers full coverage of all major aspects of speech preparation and presentation.

  • Mills, Harry. (2000). Artful Persuasion – How to Command Attention, Change Minds and Influence People. 9780814470633
    A remarkably useful guide into the world of influence, tools to successfully persuade – particularly useful for students of Business Communication and Public Speaking.  Peels away mystery that surrounds psychology of influence – very readable.

  • Moss, Geoffrey. (1993). Getting Your Ideas Across. 9780749409098
    Explores the skills necessary for good communication, demonstrating how to speak with confidence, how to write simply and effectively and how to organize and chair a meeting. Includes tips for speech preparation, conference organization, meeting preparation etc.

  • Rein, Irving J. (1981). The Public Speaking Book. 9780673151889
    An audience centred approach to basic speech preparation.  Includes case studies and different types of speeches. Practical and theoretical.

  • Rewi, Poia. (2010). Whaikorero. 9781869404635
    Assesses the origin and history of whaikorero; its structure, language and style of delivery; who may speak; and where speech happens.

  • Smale, Laurie. (1999). Take the Panic Out of Public Speaking. 9781875857906
    A very helpful guide by an Australian public speaking expert who shares his wealth of experience and knowledge.

  • Snedden, Deirdre. (1990). Talkit. 9780868633237.
    A guide to extemporaneous speaking.

  • Sprague, Jo, Stuart, Douglas & Bodary, David. (2018). The Speaker’s Handbook. 9781337558617
    Covers the entire process of preparing, organizing, developing and delivering a speech, making it the ideal resource for beginning and experienced speakers alike, with an emphasis on ethics, reasoning, audience analysis and diversity throughout.

  • Turk, Christopher. (1985). Effective Speaking: Communicating in Speech.  9780419130307
    Focuses on audience psychology, text preparation, presentation methods, voice production, body language and persuasive advocacy

  • Valentine, Nina (1993) Speaking in Public. 9780140236002
    Covers informal speeches, debating, TV and radio, after dinner speaking, toasts, presentations and responses.

  • Wilson, John F. et al. (1974). Public Speaking as a Liberal Art. 9780205079711 
    An excellent Public Speaking book for diploma students.  Invaluable in covering the art of public speaking, basic processes and understanding audiences, organising, outlining, style and delivery.


  • Sather, Trevor (ed.) (1999). Pros and Cons: A Debater’s Handbook. 9780415195478.
    Arguments for and against each subject appear in adjacent columns for easy comparison, and related topics and suggestions for possible motions are listed at the end of each entry.  Introductory essay describes debating technique, covering rules, structure and types of debate, and offering tips on how to become a successful speaker.

You may also want to visit these sites for more debating resources:


  • Hocking, Dan. (2000). Hocking’s Rules: The Essential Guide to Conducting Meetings. 9780731808519
    Contains more than just the notes covering every aspect of meeting procedure and provides general information about starting an Association.

  • Milligan, John (1974). Chairman’s Craft. 9780723304067
    A practical guidebook to the role of Chair.

  • Pitchforth, Roger. Meetings: Practice and Procedure in New Zealand. 9780864757944
    Gives the legal requirements for a complete range of meetings – companies, directors, local authorities, incorporated societies, others and marae meetings. 

  • Renton, N.E. (2005). Guide for Meetings and Organisations. 9780455220758.
    Covers all practical aspects of meeting procedure.  Designed to meet the needs of those who wish meetings to proceed in the minimum of time with maximum efficiency.  Explains fundamental concepts and contains advice on correct techniques.

  • Von Dadelszen, Mark. (2012). Members’ Meetings in New Zealand. 9780455220758 
    Answers all your questions on meeting procedure.  Useful definition of terms.  Easy reference.


  • Linklater, Kristin. Freeing the Natural Voice

  • Berry, Cecily. (1987). The Actor and His Text. 9780684189376
    Loaded with ideas of how to bring text to life.  Examples mainly drawn from Shakespeare but these adapt to verse or other modern scripts.  Both practical and academic.

  • Linklater, Kristin. (1992). Freeing the Shakespeare Voice: The Actor’s Guide to Talking the Text. 9781848320830
    A passionate exploration containing exercises, background information on aspects of language and examples of application on texts. 

  • Martin, Stephanie. (2004). The Teaching Voice.  9781861564368
    Aims to offer a mix of practice and theory, which will allow professional voice users to understand how the voice works, to explore some of the factors that influence voice production and most importantly, to offer strategies and solutions which will provide a framework to keep them in good voice throughout their professional careers. 

  • Martin, Stephanie & Darnley, Lyn. (2005). The Voice Sourcebook. 9780863884528
    Practical ideas backed by sound theoretical knowledge. 

  • Parker, Steve. (1996). The Lungs and Respiratory System. 9780750217675.
    Describes the workings of the respiratory system with photos and diagrams of the various organs and their functions.  At student level.


  • Barrett, Harold. (1981). Practical Uses of Speech Communication. 9780030495915
    Covers preparation for all occasions – discussion skills, listening, non-verbal action, the use of persuasion, audiovisual aids and communicating with verbal symbols.  A good teaching book.

  • Buzan, Tony & Barry. The Mind Map Book: How to Use Radiant Thinking to Maximise Your Brain’s Untapped Potential. 9780452273221 
    Beautifully illustrated to teach the techniques and application of mind mapping.  This may be used for teaching creative thinking, minute taking, planning, studying, logical thinking.

  • Dalton, Joan. (1992). Adventures in Thinking: Creative Thinking and Cooperative Talk in Small Groups. 9780170065559
    Gives detailed strategies in developing creative and critical thinking skills, co-operative talk, small-group work, effectively managing small groups and evaluating children’s development.

Children's Literature

  • Atwoll, Mary et al. (1991). Fabulous and Familiar: Children’s Reading in New Zealand, Past and Present. 9780477027014
    Overview of children’s reading in New Zealand from 1890 to 1990.   

  • Carpenter, Humphrey & Pritchard, Mari. (1999). The Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature. 9780198602286
    Nine hundred biographical entries – concise plot summaries – literary history and background – characters – written to both entertain and instruct.

  • Fitzgibbon, Tom. (1993). Beneath Southern Skies. 9781869431105
    Covers all major writers and illustrators of children’s books in New Zealand. A one page description of writer and works, with a photo and list of works.

  • Hunt, Peter (ed.) (1996). Children’s Literature: An Illustrated History. 9780192892430 
    Traces the history of children’s books in Britain, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand from the very first printed books to the present day. 

Language and Phonetics

  • Baker, Ann. (2006). Ship or Sheep? Student’s Book: An Intermediate Pronunciation Course. 9780521606714 
    Comprehensive coverage of 49 units of vowels and consonant sounds with guided test sentences, duologues, and fun graphics.  Classroom or studio use.  Also good for ESOL.

  • Bryson, Bill. (2001). Mother Tongue: English and How it Got That Way. 9780380715435
    Explores the remarkable history, eccentricities, resilience and sheer fun of the English language.  

  • Catford, J.C. (2002). Practical Introduction to Phonetics. 9780199246359
    For Diploma students. Shows how to examine the entire range of human sounds through a series of 124 introspective experiments carried out in their own vocal tracts. It systematically covers all types of speech modification (breath, voice, whisper, creak), articulation (the ways in which the air stream is finally modulated to generate specific types of sound), and prosodic features (stress, syllable, tone, intonation).

  • Fromkin, V., Rodman, R. & Hyams, N. (2018). An Introduction to Language. 9781337559577
    Good resource book for Licentiate study.

Professional and Business Communication


  • Speak Easy: The Essential Guide to Speaking in Public; Maggie Eyre (NZ author) Exisle Publishing Limited, 2007, ISBN 987-0-908988-58-7

  • Presenting to Win: The Art of Telling Your Story: Jerry Weissman (American author); Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006, ISBN 0-13-187510-8

  • Speak For Yourself, Revised Edition, How to Give Persuasive and Entertaining Talks – with Confidence: Cristina Stuart (British author); Piatkus Books Ltd, 2000, ISBN 0-7499 2593 0


These are books that have been recommended by a range of New Zealand Speech Teachers. They are personal recommendations and are not necessarily endorsed by Speech New Zealand or its Trustees, please get in touch if you would like more details on these titles.