National Trust launches children’s book festival

National Trust launches children’s book festival

The National Trust is launching its first children’s book festival at Wray Castle in the Lake District in March.

National Trust's publisher Katie Bond created the event, entitled Children’s Book Festival 2016, to both boost the charity’s presence in children’s books and celebrate 150 years since the birth of Beatrix Potter, who gave land to the National Trust on her death.

Bond told The Bookseller: “I joined the National Trust in May 2014 and when I looked at what was going on business-wide I realised that the biggest hole was children’s books, so that was one of my main priorities. I was also aware of the Beatrix Potter anniversary and we’ve got amazing venues, which is always one of the challenges in organising a festival, so I thought a children’s book festival would be fantastic.”

The event, which will take place 4-6th March, is for children aged 3-11 and authors and illustrators such as Axel Scheffler, Philip Ardagh, Benji Davies, Sophy Henn and Steven Lenton are on the programme.

The first day of the festival will be for local schools, with Cressida Cowell as one of the main attractions, and Saturday and Sunday will be open to the public.

Bond, who also has a publishing partnership with Nosy Crow, said she already plans to expand the event further afield.

“We want to create a weekend in the year when all our properties can celebrate kids books and we’ve already had interest from other venues,” she said. “We will perhaps expand to four regions in 2017 and more after that.”

She said the National Trust will pay the authors and illustrators a fee, as well as put them up in a local hotel. “I’m aware that a lot of authors, particular children’s authors, get much of their income from events, and it’s a brave author who stands up in front of 60 seven-year-olds!”

Bookings for Children’s Book Festival 2016 open on the National Trust website next week.