T&L Junior talks to Wimbledon BookFest’s Director Fiona Razvi about Bookfest and its work with young people.
Readers may already know, and have attended, one of the events that take place as part of the public festival in October. However, the team also work with local schools year round on its Education Programme.
Tell us a little about the Word Up! Education Programme?
Word up is a programme of activity with children and schools at the heart – from nursery to university.
It includes author talks, a free books programme for children who don’t otherwise have access to books, a schools-wide writing competition and more focused activity for teenagers.
What are you particularly looking forward to this year?
We have some stand out events taking place at New Wimbledon Theatre with the Children’s Laureate, Cressida Cowell and the teen writer Marlorie Blackman. It’s Malorie’s only UK schools event for her new book, Crossfire in the Noughts and Crosses series which is being developed as a BBC series starring Stormzy. We expect 1,500 children from 30 local schools to attend these events which also celebrate young people’s work with our Young Writers’ Competition prize giving.
What is the atmosphere in the tent like for a big schools event?
The Festival takes place in a pop-up site on Wimbledon Common. There is something so special about a festival atmosphere and the ability to come together with other school for a collective experience.
What is there for young people this year?
Teenagers get involved in many ways. Bookfest has a gig night showcasing young talent from 14-19 – hosted by Radio X’s, John Kennedy. There is a student panel to help programme events. Over 100 sixth form students volunteer every year to steward at events.
What aspect of the Education Programme are you most proud of?
The amount and range of children who are now coming to events. That is down to the fact that schools have seen the value of them.
What do you hope kids/young people might gain from coming?
To be entertained and educated. For many young people these events with authors kick start a life-long love of reading by bringing books to life.
You can find out more about all the events and the Education Programme at www.wimbledonbookfest.org