Waterstones children’s laureate Cressida Cowell is heading the line-up of authors and illustrators at children’s digital book festival Reading is Magic.
Hosted by TV presenter Karim Zeroual and running from 27th September to 2nd October, the free event has been organised by a partnership of festivals, including Bath Children’s Literature Festival, Bradford Literature Festival and the Toronto International Festival of Authors.
Alongside Cowell, it will feature appearances from Katie Yamasaki, Jasbinder Bilan, Dara McAnulty, Jason Reynolds, Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Dapo Adeola and Nathan Bryon.
The event's name was inspired by Cowell, whose key message as the current laureate is “reading is magic, and magic is for everyone”. It is themed around five points from her Children's Laureate Charter, stating every child has the right to be creative for at least 15 minutes a week, have a planet to read on, see themselves reflected in a book, have advice from a trained librarian or bookseller, and read for the joy of it.
Cowell said: “I was delighted when Bath Festivals suggested the Reading is Magic Festival in partnership with a network of other festivals, based on some of the themes in my Waterstones Children’s Laureate Charter: the giant ‘to-do list’ I announced on my appointment as children’s laureate. Research shows that reading for the joy of it has powerful, measurable real-life benefits that can transform lives. This ‘magic’ ought to be available to everyone, which is why the work literature festivals do with their local school communities to inspire a love of reading is so important. I am excited that the wonderful virtual programme of events in the Reading is Magic Festival will be available, for free, to schools up and down the country and internationally, so that young people, whether at home or in their classroom bubbles, can experience the magic of books and reading.”
Organisers say thousands of youngsters around the world have already signed up, and registration is free online.
Events will last between 10 and 30 minutes, and will be broadcast on a schools-friendly platform. All visual events will have captions and a British Sign Language interpreter, and the festival has worked with the Egg Theatre’s young audio describers to advise authors and illustrators on audio describing.
Ian Stockley, chief executive at Bath Festivals, said: “We are delighted to be working with Cressida Cowell and our festival partners on this project, following the cancellation of our hugely successful Children’s Literature Festival. One of our core values is about positively impacting the lives of young people and we are very excited about finding new ways of connecting with our audiences, working collaboratively with our festival partners and providing creativity and access to the arts across all parts of our communities.”