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Studies prove that reading for pleasure – not just for school or work – has a big impact on academic potential. Children who read regularly for enjoyment not only perform at a higher level in English-related tests (such as comprehension or essay writing) but also exhibit increased knowledge retention and improved vocabulary. In fact, it’s now believed that a love of literature is more important to a child’s performance at school than their socio-economic status.
In addition to all the academic benefits, reading can open a young person’s mind in a way that no other activity can. Additionally, as we cannot emphasise enough, reading is the best at home preparation you can do for the 11 plus.
Books offer a myriad of perks: they increase a child’s knowledge and understanding of different cultures, improve empathy (by letting the reader ‘walk’ in other people’s shoes), expose them to attitudes and interests other than their own, and expand their general knowledge and sense of creativity. The power of the imagination is, well, powerful – and reading gives children a window into the world of the unknown.
However, getting a young person to appreciate literature is easier said than done – particularly in the modern world, where both adults and children spend a great deal of time glued to screens and gadgets. Here are a few of our favourite family-friendly literature festivals: these events are fun for the whole family, and will give your child the chance to get out and about, learning about – and being inspired by– all different kinds of writing at the same time.
The Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC) is part of London Film & Comic Con, and takes place in late July 2019. Founded by popular author Malorie Blackman when she was Waterstone’s Children’s Laureate, YALC includes panel discussions, interviews with a fantastic roster of authors, and stalls at which you can grab the latest YA bestsellers and previews of up-and-coming releases. There’s even an element of cosplay! A must for any fan of YA literature.
This annual event takes place every July in the quaint town of Ledbury, and attracts established and emerging talent from all over the world. The 2019 programme is exciting as ever, featuring poetry from lauded author Margaret Atwood, comedian Alexei Sayle, and more.
One of the largest festivals in the world, with over 900 events for adults and children alike each year, the Edinburgh International Book Festival offers something for anyone and everyone.
The line-up is always eclectic and high-quality: speakers include not only novelists and poets, but also scientists, philosophers, athletes, and illustrators, to name but a few. There’s also a dedicated Children’s Festival with 200+ events, many of which are free to attend.
Edinburgh may have one of the largest general literature festivals in the world, but Bath Children’s Literature Festival is Europe’s largest festival dedicated to children’s literature: and 2019 promises to be a really special year, with celebrated children’s authors like Philip Pullman, Marcus Sedgwick and David Walliams in attendance.
The festival is full of exciting events, from talks and workshops, to masterclasses, and even a poetry slam.
The Henley Literary Festival is held every autumn, with a dedicated Children’s Festival running alongside. One of the things that makes this festival so special is the diverse range of ages that the events cater for: from toddler storytelling sessions, to ‘babes in arms’ events, to workshops for teenagers. Past speakers include best-selling authors like Michael Morpugo and familiar faces from television, such as chef and author Nadiya Hussain (who rose to fame in The Great British Bake Off).
Cheltenham isn’t only famous for racing – it’s also home to one of the oldest literary events in the world: the Cheltenham Literature Festival, which has been running since 1949. Each October, hundreds of influential thinkers – writers, politicians, opinion formers, actors and poets – descend on the Cotswold town to share their appreciation for the written word.
For families, there’s also the ‘Book It!’ festival-within-a-festival, which features lots of pop-up events, free activities, readings and signings. Not to be missed!
A special treat for London families, the London Literature Festival’s children’s programme takes place each October half term, and offers a plethora of events for literature enthusiasts: story-telling sessions, workshops, appearances from famous authors, and more. For theatre lovers, there are a range of family-friendly performances, and for YA literature fans, a special Young Adult programme. A particularly well-rounded festival and a real delight for visitors of all ages.
Find out how Mentor can help you support you and your child as you approach the 11+. Get in touch today.