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Spotlight on Children’s Literature Festivals

By Rosie Pinder and Aimee Haldron

According to the Children’s Literature Festivals charity, there are currently over 350 literature festivals in the UK, with less than 10% solely dedicated to children. The charity argues that increasing this is vital to improving both literacy levels and children’s enjoyment of books.

Yet, it is also important to celebrate the work of those that do exist and are already doing great things in this field. There are some literary festivals, for example, that began as events for adults but now run exciting events for children, too, as part of their programmes. The TheSchoolRun website and blog include a great rundown of some of the best of these running throughout the year, from the Imagine Children’s Festival held in London’s South Bank in February, to the Northern Children’s Book Festival which runs across the whole of the North East region during November.

In fact, there is so much going on throughout the year that we couldn’t do justice to every single festival in this piece. So, we’ve chosen to do a quick overview of what’s to come in the next couple of months, taking us to the end of 2022.

Bath Children’s Literature Festival

Coming up very soon is the Bath Children’s Literature Festival, Europe’s largest dedicated book festival for children’s literature. Running from 23 September to 2 October, the event is now fully back up and running after having to move online during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. There are lots of events taking place in nine different venues across the city, including Bath Central Library, the Guildhall and The Holburne Museum.

Some events are sold out but there are still loads of tickets up for grabs for everything from author talks and Q+As to interactive workshops.

Here are some of the events that have caught our attention:

  • A workshop where you can ”Make your Own Gromit with Aardman Animations” on 24 September.

  • A talk with Cerrie Burnell about her book I am Not a Label which celebrates people’s different experiences of disability and talks about the need for better representation, also on 24 September.

  • A talk with writer Jasbinder Bilan and illustrator Nina Chakrabati about their book India, Incredible India, which is a brilliant introduction to the history and culture of India. This event is to be held on 2 October.

Cheltenham Festival for Schools

Running alongside the well-known Cheltenham Literature Festival and its events for adults is the Cheltenham Festival for Schools. The programme begins in September with online workshops followed by the LIVE Festival from 7 October to 16 October. There is a wealth of different events with different activities that are specifically aimed at primary school children, secondary school children and home-educated children.

The primary school events are sold out but there are still plenty of tickets available for secondary schools and home educators.

The theme this year, in fact, is a continuation of last year’s theme – “Read the World.” So, there are some really diverse, exciting events to get involved with. Here are a couple of events that we’re particularly excited about:

  • Lydia Monks: Adoette, 7 October. Lydia discusses her new book Adoette and encourages children to think about the natural world as they complete draw-alongs as well as readings and games in this interactive event.

  • Nick Sharratt: Super Silly Museums, 14 October. In this fun-filled session, beloved children’s illustrator Nick Sharratt will be giving a guided tour of the most super silly museums children will ever visit.

If you want to check out the whole range of other events that are taking place, you can find the brochures here.

Northern Children’s Book Festival

Established in 1983 as a result of a collaboration between all the library authorities in the North East, the NCBF began. It’s the only children’s literature festival in the region and the only one in the UK that covers an entire region. The festival typically runs for two weeks with book-related activities, working with schools and communities across the entire region. There are visits from authors and illustrators that culminate in a free Gala Day event where children and their families meet and get involved with sessions run by some of their favourite authors.

This is the first year the festival is back in person after COVID-19 and the schedule is still being finalised, but with the 2018 Gala Day including authors such as Steve Skidmore and Sophie Anderson, it’s sure to be a good one!

We’ve barely scratched the surface of some of the amazing literature festivals available for children’s literature. But hopefully, this has given you a taste of the ones that are still to come at the end of this year and inspire you to potentially attend some in the future.



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