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Best Book Festivals and Attractions

by Rhonda Carrier


At Seven Stories, Newcastle

Encouraging the love of reading in a child goes far beyond sharing a bedtime story with them, especially with the growing number of attractions and events showcasing children's literature. 

In addition to the below, many child-friendly general festivals, especially the Just So Festival in Cheshire, include readings, storytelling and other book-related events.

World Book Day each March includes special storytelling sessions in some public spaces, as well as lots of activity in schools and online.

Roald Dahl Museum & Story Centre, Buckinghamshire

This celebration of Great Missenden's most well-known son is best suited to kids 6+ who have read at least some of Dahl's books. Displays include a replica of the garden shed in which he wrote, and there are free craft activities, workshops and storytelling in school holidays. The best time to come is Roald Dahl Day each September, when a program of extra activities adds to the literary fun.

For younger kids, the Buckinghamshire County Museum in nearby Aylesbury is home to the Roald Dahl Children’s Gallery, which includes a ride in the Great Glass Elevator up to the Imagination Gallery. You need to pre-book a slot.

Seven Stories, Newcastle

The first museum in the UK dedicated to children's books and the creativity they inspire occupies a plum quayside location in this re-emerging city. Expect changing exhibitions, events, dressing-up and crafts.

Discover Children's Story Centre, London

The British capital's only children's museum, in Stratford, E15, is conceived as an interactive story trail along which kids can make up their own tales. There's also a Story Garden for when the weather is kind, and a busy program of events, including The Big Write festival of children's literature each March.

Imagine Children's Festival, London

Taking over much of the Southbank Centre around the February half term, this festival is programmed by kids from local state schools, who are also in charge of selling programs and ensuring shows start on time. More than 100 free and ticketed events include talks by the likes of David Walliams, shows for all ages, trails and games.

Shrewsbury Children's Bookfest, Shropshire

This 4-day festival each May may be short but it packs a punch, with 2013 including The Wimpy Kid Show, the town square transformed into Never Never Land, and appearances by Simon Mayo, Michael Murpurgo, Ian Whybrow of Harry and his Bucketful of Dinosaurs fame, and Duncan Titmarsh, the UK's only certified LEGO-builidng professional. Book well ahead for ticketed events.

Hoo's Kids Book Fest, Bedfordshire

First held in early summer 2012, this festival in the Capability Brown designed Luton Hoo Walled Garden includes an Author Tent with talks and Q&As, illustrators sharing drawing tips with families, a wandering poet, folk-singing and a travelling library.

Pop Up Festival of Stories, London

The 3rd edition of the annual festival of stories for kids and families will return to the King's Cross area in summer 2013. Last year's event included a Roald Dahl disco.

International Book Festival, Edinburgh

This world-famous event held each August includes a packed children's program for everyone from tots to teens, plus inspiration for parents and carers too. Many events are free.

Bath Children's Literature Festival, Somerset

Staged in association with The Telegraph and Waterstone’s Booksellers, the largest dedicated children’s book festival in the UK features than 80 public, ticketed events in late Sept and early Oct. Curated in 2013 by David Almond, in the past it has attracted Jacqueline Wilson, Michael Morpurgo, Lauren Child and Julia Donaldson. Events include book readings, craft activities, quizzes and games.

Children's Book Festival, Manchester

Next held in June and July 2014, this 11-day festival includes readings, performances and crafts for children and families. Hosted by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University, it features many top children's writers.

Port Eliot Festival, Cotswolds

Formerly the Eliot Lit Fest, this bohemian event featuring literature and poetry but also music, comedy and film skips a year in 2013 to return in July 2014, when it will have a supervised kids' area where young festival-goers can create their own stories and artworks, plus a teens' Mucking About With Words tent hosting slam poetry sessions with DJs.

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