Become an art collector and get more New Zealand kids into books.

That's the message from children's book publisher Gecko Press, which has launched a fundraiser to start the Curiously Good Book Club to encourage more kiwi kids to read.

But the fundraiser may have another benefit by raising the profile of some of our most talented and prolific - yet under-recognised - artists: children's book illustrators.

Those from New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Germany and Belgium have donated limited edition prints and/or original work featured in some of Gecko's most popular books to be sold online.


They include locals Gavin Bishop, Paul Beavis, Sarah Davis and Kieran Rynhart; Bishop, Davis and Rynhart are finalists in this year's NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults while Beavis is a previous winner.

Gecko Press chief executive Julia Marshall said the illustrators happily donated work because they believe in the importance of fostering a lifelong love of books and reading.

She said since plans for the club were announced, others have come forward with ideas for fundraising and book club events.

"The idea of it just snowballs and it's lovely to see people wanting to be involved," Marshall said.

"We don't just want people reading Gecko Press books - we want our booksellers to thrive, and libraries and schools, and we want children to rate reading high on their list of favourite things to do."

While artworks range from $250 to $1000, book packages and parcels are also on sale as well as eight $1000 book packs which can be donated to a school or library of the buyer's choice.

The Wellington-based press wants to raise $35,000 toward the book club, having already contributed $15,000 to meet the $50,000 start-up costs.

The club will run online and real-life events, including author and illustrator webinars, story-telling sessions at beaches and, especially for adults, workshops on how to be a good "reader-a-louder". Young club members will receive reading journals as well as tips and hints on how they and their friends can start their own book clubs.