There seems to be a real swing towards encouraging our kids to read, and we absolutely love that. One of my greatest joys was sitting with my lad, on a horrible rainy day, picking out a book and reading it together. Okay, so these were the days before a billion TV channels, smartphones and a whole range of electronic devices. All of which by the way are terrific. Somehow however, sitting together with a proper book, that you can thumb through, turn the page back and forward, and point at words you need to focus on, seems so much better with a real book. When have you ever heard anyone say ‘don’t put your fingerprints on that book.’

We’ve had World Book Day recently, which is another event which not only encourages our kids to read but gives them free books too. So you can imagine how delighted we are that the Cardiff CHILDREN’S LITERATURE FESTIVAL is back and it’s had a makeover! The award-winning family festival returns with an exciting new format and an inspiring programme of authors, illustrators and workshops, all taking place on one jam-packed weekend in City Hall and National Museum, Cardiff. This is your chance to take your kids and spend the day with them at the festival.

There is so much on offer for primary-aged children. From picture book authors and story-time sessions for younger children to mystery, crime and comedy for more experienced readers. Science, nature and the environment are also strong themes this year and our workshop programme includes the chance learn from the amazing Aardman Animation model makers how to make your own Shaun the Sheep and other characters.

You can spend time in the new festival hub in City Hall where you can grab a coffee and relax between sessions while the children take part in free craft activities, chill out in Cardiff Libraries’ Reading Corner – or discover why ducks waddle and other amazing facts with RSPB Cymru’s Giving Nature a Home’s giant birds nest.

Don’t miss the Love Your Libraries exhibition, a collection of artworks by 12 Simon & Schuster illustrators, launched at the Victoria and Albert Museum last October, during Libraries Week. Contributing illustrators are: Ben Cort, Sue Hendra & Paul Linnet, Kate Hindley, Richard Jones, Sara Ogilvy, Fiona Lumbers, Tom Percival, Claire Powell, Ali Pye, Steve Small and Fiona Woodcock.

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If you’d like to download the Festival Brochure, and we reccommend you do as there is just so much going on, you can do that here, for free. BROCHURE

This year there will be some fantastic sessions which we know will thrill and thoroughly entertain the kids (and you too). People like A.F. HARROLD who’s a poet who writes and performs for adults and children, in cabaret and in schools, in bars and in basements, in fields and indoors. He was actually Glastonbury Festival Website’s Poet-In-Residence in 2008, and Poet-In-Residence at Cheltenham Literature Festival in 2010.

He also won the Cheltenham All Stars Slam Championship in 2007 and has had his work on BBC Radio 4, Radio 3 and BBC7. He is active in schools work, running workshops and slams and doing performances at ungodly hours of the morning, and has published several collections of poetry. He is the owner of many books, a handful of hats, a few good ideas and one incredible beard.

SHARNA JACKSON is an author and Artistic Director who specialises in developing and delivering socially-engaged digital initiatives for children and young people across culture, publishing and entertainment. She encourages and increases diverse and disengaged audiences’ participation in the arts locally, nationally, and globally.

Sharna has written three books, Tate Kids British Art Activity Book, Tate Kids Modern Art Activity Book and High Rise Mystery – the first in a middle-grade series featuring the sibling detective duo everyone’s dying to meet. She was named one of The Booksellers Rising Stars in 2013. She is Southbank Centre’s Imagine A Story author for 2020. The Artistic Director at Site Gallery, Sheffield’s leading international contemporary art space, specialising in moving image, new media and performance. And is also on the board of Sheffield Doc/Fest in addition to being a member of BAFTA’s Children’s and Learning and New Talent committees and the Children’s Media Conference advisory board.

Welsh Soprano, GWAWR EDWARDS is one of Wales’ leading talents. Gwawr studied right here, at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff where she gained an entrance scholarship. She also studied at The Conservatorio Statale di Musica ‘Giuseppe Verdi’ in Turin, on an Erasmus Exchange, and subsequently at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London where she gained a first class Masters degree, under the tuition of Yvonne Kenny. 

Gwawr has recently released her second Album ‘Alleluia‘  featuring Only Men Aloud, Rhys Taylor’s dixieland jazz band, mezzo-soprano Caryl Hughes, and Cor Ieienctyd Mon. Her first album featured the bass-barritone Bryn Terfel and harpist Catrin Finch. She also sang a duet with Bryn Terfel on his Christmas album on the Deutsche Grammophon label.

Away from the music expect Gwarw to pick up a book and read to the kids, something she’s done many time before, especially as this is her book. Mali – Storiau am Gi Bach ar y Fferm was published last year.

We don’t even know where to begin with award winning Children’s Author KES GRAY. The Independent noted him as one of the top ten children’s authors in the UK. He is the author of the award-winning Eat Your Peas and four more titles in the acclaimed Daisy series, as well as Our Twitchy and Who’s Poorly Too?, illustrated by Mary McQuillan, and Billy’s Bucket, illustrated by Garry Parsons, winner of the Red House Children’s Book Award for Younger Readers.

We’re sure he’ll mention his childhood when he’s at the festival, and so he should, he did alright as a young lad. He attended Great Baddow Comprehensive, gaining 6 O’ Levels and 3 A’ Levels, before going on to study for a B.A.Hons in English and American Literature at Kent University in Canterbury. He graduated with a 2:1. Kes also got a Grade A Diploma in Advertising Writing. More importantly, for the purpose of this year’s festival, he has so many fantastic books to his name that we know the kids will love meeting and listening to him.

If you need any proof as to just how many, just click on this link and you’ll see them all. KES When you get to see him in Cardiff, ask about his collections. He avidly collects everything from Star Wars toys, Micro Machines, Ghostbusters Memorabilia, Johnny Seven, old 1960/70s games and toys like Spirograph and blow football, and seemingly lots of crisps and biscuits.

Here is one of his stories, read on the CBeebies Channel by Frank Skinner.

To help you take full advantage of the festival, there are now discounted family tickets and a special offer for those attending multiple sessions! It’s the old, the more you buy the cheaper it is thing, and let’s be honest, once you’ve looked through the brochure there really be so much you want the kids to see.

Prior to the main Festival weekend they’ll be offering FREE School Sessions again this year. From Tuesday 21 April – Friday 24 April authors and illustrators, including Phil Earle, Mererid Hopwood, Joseph Coelho and Ross Mackenzie, will present entertaining morning and afternoon sessions for KS1 or KS2 pupils at City Hall and the Reardon Smith Theatre, National Museum, Cardiff.

The festival bookseller, Chepstow Books, will be at each school session with books for pupils to buy and there will be an opportunity post event to meet the authors and to get books signed. In fact you could make a full day of it and combine your trip with a visit to the National Museum Wales. Entry is free and they have a bookable room for packed lunches.

Sessions are at 10am and 1pm daily and will last approximately one hour but please allow time for book signings and travel to and from the venue. Just remember to book enough seats for all those attending including teaching staff and volunteers. If you’d like more information just give them a call on Call us on 02920-873394 or email events@cardiff.gov.uk to secure FREE spaces for your school now. If you’d like to include a visit to the National Museum Wales as well, just give them a call on 02920-573240.

We need to tell you that although the sessions are free, they will implement a £50 charge if your group is a ‘no show’ or if you cancel your booking within 2 weeks of the event. When they take your booking they will ask you to agree to these terms in writing. Should a cancellation take place, you will then receive an invoice.

The CHILDREN’S LITERATURE FESTIVAL takes place over the weekend of the 25th and 26th April at the City Hall in Cardiff. It runs between 10am and 5pm each day. For more information and to get yourself tickets, go here. LITERATURE

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