Free book festival aimed at inspiring a love of reading  

Over 600 school children across London take part in free book festival aimed at inspiring a love of reading  

Over 600 children from 16 London primary schools have taken part in a special book festival aimed at inspiring a new generation of booklovers.  

This year marks the third annual Beanstalk BookFest, a free literacy festival organised each year by national charity Beanstalk. The charity helps children who struggle with their reading by providing trained volunteer reading helpers who work one-to-one with children in primary schools and early years’ settings.  

As part of BookFest the charity exclusively invites schools it works with to take part in inspiring and interactive workshops, which are generously supported by the venues, authors and illustrators who give their time to spread a love of books and reading. 

This year the event involved more children than ever before with five events happening simultaneously across two venues in London which were generously provided once again by Frances Holland School in Belgravia and the Chickenshed Theatre in Southgate.  

To open the day’s activities Beanstalk reading helpers were invited to listen to an exclusive author talk which this year was given by Free book festival aimed at inspiring a love of reading  children’s novelist and poet Michael Rosen. During his talk Michael emphasised the importance of reading for pleasure and how we can use books to help empower children to interpret and  understand the world around them. 

Beanstalk school children were then delighted by workshops from Polly Faber (author of Picking Pickle), Abi Elphinstone (author of Sky Song) and Peter Bunzl (Cogheart, Moonlocket and Skycircus) - all who are also Beanstalk reading helpers themselves in London. Illustrator Clara Vulliamy (illustrator of Picking Pickle) joined Polly Faber for a fun workshop based around the book and Ross Montgomery (The Space Tortoise) also kindly hosted a delightful workshop which inspired children to go and write their own stories.  

Over at the Chickenshed Theatre in Southgate the wonderful Really Big Pants Theatre Company performed their storytelling-based show ‘Suddenly...!’ which was hugely entertaining for the children.  

Ginny Lunn, Chief Executive Officer at Beanstalk, said: 

“The Beanstalk BookFest concept has always been to offer a free and all-inclusive literacy experience for primary school children that may not have been to a book or literacy festival before. It’s such a very moving experience to see so many children leaving completely inspired by the workshops. For many, it may be the first time they have been excited about books and reading.”    
“As a charity we rely on the generosity of our volunteers, the venues and the authors who make Beanstalk BookFest possible and for enabling us to make it bigger and better each year so more children get to experience it. Special thanks goes to all involved who made this event possible including the venues, the authors and volunteers who enabled us to include so many more children this year. Our hope is that Beanstalk BookFest will become a nationwide event with workshops and activities happening simultaneously across all the areas we work in to inspire a new generation of readers and writers,” adds Ginny.    

For the first time Beanstalk BookFest extended beyond London to other parts of the country Beanstalk works in, where similar events took place in Norfolk, Northampton and Swindon. To find out about all the events which happened as part of BookFest 2018 visit:  

The event was uniquely captured by Caroline Chapple, founder of Chapple Cartoons, who graphically records events and conferences such as these to communicate the messages in a meaningful and memorable way.  

She said: “I really LOVED being able to graphically record Beanstalk BookFest 2018. Beanstalk are an incredible charity, with such great heart, providing volunteer readers to help literacy and encourage reading for all it brings, including just the sheer joy of it!”