Updated: Wednesday, 1st July 2020 @ 4:56pm

Manchester Children’s Book Festival vows to make background no barrier to getting kids reading

Manchester Children’s Book Festival vows to make background no barrier to getting kids reading

| By Nsofwa Kangwa

Young book lovers from all backgrounds are being encouraged to experience events, talks and exhibitions as part of Manchester Children’s Book Festival.

The festival, which will take place across 18 different venues, is providing children from poorer backgrounds with the opportunity to develop their literacy skills.

Well known writers including Michael Morpurgo, Carol Anne Duffy and Cathy Cassidy are amongst those who will perform, read and talk on various days during the festival that ends on July 6.

Festival director James Draper told MM:  “For the run up to the festival we sent authors like Curtis Jobling, author and creator of Bob The Builder, to schools where he’s hosted workshops and activities.

“These are designed specifically to raise the aspirations in children and make them aware of opportunities for creative expression. 

“It’s all about engaging a self-motivated passion for literature.”

NEW CHAPTER: The festival gives children from all backgrounds the chance to improve their literacy

The festival comes a week after findings – by a report into education from a Commons Select Committee – revealed that white working-class pupils were the poorest performers in exams in primary school education compared to other ethnic groups.

The report highlighted a main reason for pupil’s underachievement was ‘a perceived lack of aspiration amongst parents for their children’s future and a lack of engagement in their schooling’.

This is something which James knows needs to be addressed and which he hopes the festival can help towards.

“Carole Ann Duffy, who’s the creative director of the festival, wants to aim the festival at everyone,” he said.

“It shouldn’t be a festival just for who might be the traditional literature festival attendee.

“We really want to encourage children who might think ‘oh that’s not for me’ or who may think ‘it’s something my family isn’t used to’ engaging with it."

School trips are put on for pupils to visit the People’s History museum and talks with inspirational authors.

Dates like the Family Fun Day on Saturday June 28, will offer free activities to everyone from pre-readers to mums and dads allowing the whole family to enjoy themselves in the name of literature.

Talks on how to make literacy just as significant outside the classroom will also take place.

James added: “Next Friday night we’ve got David Almond coming in and he’ll be in conversation with one of our writers from the university, Livi Michael.

“The theme of that event is going to be the role that literature festivals play, particularly in encouraging children and young adults to read for pleasure.

“To not just do the reading in school but seek out their own enthusiasm and interests, pick up books and enjoy reading for fun.”

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Images via Manchester Book Festival, with thanks