Norfolk Children's Book Day
15 July 2012
After an initial rain shower, but followed thereafter by uninterrupted sunshine, the inaugural Norfolk Children’s Book Festival was launched on Wednesday 4th July in a 650-seater marquee sited on the Lower Close lawns of Norwich Lower School within the impressive setting of Norwich Cathedral. Children and teachers/librarians from 16 schools in and around Norwich were captivated by presentations from 4 noted UK authors - Simon Scarrow, whose latest release, “Gladiator: Street Fighter”, is the second in his series; Lindsey Barraclough, author of “Long Lankin”; and Chris Priestley, author of “Mister Creecher” a brilliant re-imagining of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. The fourth session of the day, a creative writing session, was conducted by Chris Radmann, author of “Held Up”.
On arrival, each pupil received a Norfolk Children’s Book Festival goodie bag containing festival note-pad, pencil, sharpener, festival book mark, spiral cap and button-badge as well as a lucky draw ticket and Jarrold Store book and game department vouchers.
After each author’s talk the session was opened up for question-time in which pupils participated whole-heartedly. There were some excellent questions levelled at the authors; Christie Greenacre, an English teacher from City of Norwich School said that she was pleased with the many perceptive questions asked by her pupils. After each session pupils then had an opportunity to purchase books from Jarrold Books, who provided the books at discounted prices. Pupils joined the queue to talk to the author and have their book signed during the 30 minute interval between author sessions. Others enjoyed an ice cream in the sunshine during the break, or simply took the opportunity to walk around or chat to their friends. The eight winners of the lucky draws went away with a book bag containing books and pens, a prize-value in excess of £15. As Ros Lunny, Personalised Learning Manager from Sewell Park College said: “My pupils have really enjoyed the surroundings, they have enjoyed all the speakers and felt very welcomed. I cannot put a price on being able to meet a real author and hear about their work, because hopefully that will engender a love of reading and enthuse them.”
It was a day to inspire young readers and writers, for them to have the opportunity to hear about new books and to feel encouraged to try a book by an author that they might not otherwise have tried, or to read a book from a genre they might not usually read. We hope that we sent away 600 tired but happy people and we look forward to welcoming them all again to the next Norfolk Children’s Book Festival in July 2013.
In conclusion, esteemed author and current President of the School Library Association Kevin Crossley-Holland said: "The statistics about how much - or, rather, how little - British children read for sheer pleasure are depressing. All praise to Norwich School and its librarian Cheryl Wood, for adding to this growing groundswell (of organisations pushing for attention to be given to this issue) by launching the inaugural Norfolk Children's Book Festival. This is exactly what we need to promote literacy and encourage reading-for-pleasure."