Haydays – Hay Literary Festival’s Children Fest – 26 May to 5 June 2016

From Julia Eccleshare, Lovereading4kids editorial expert and Director of this year’s Hay Fever.

 

Half term is almost here and with half term comes Haydays, the Hay Festival children’s festival. Nine days jam-packed with opportunities to enter the vibrant world of children’s books.

There are many delights to being the Director of a Haydays but the main one is that I know we can give all children the chance to enter the world of the stories that they love. Apart from the absolute pleasure of hearing about what it takes to be a writer or illustrator, or why fantasy worlds feed the imagination so well, or writing and illustrating, or the importance of family in stories, it is well-established that the children’s love of reading is fostered and enhanced by listening to an author and going behind the scenes of a story. Thus pleasure and education are intertwined to benefit all.

 

During the nine days of Haydays, there are over 100 events giving children the chance to hear favourite authors speaking about best-loved characters. Julia Donaldson launches the festival with a star cast, including herself, performing in a sneaky preview of her new character Detective Dog Nell, heroine of the forthcoming The Detective Dog before Francesca Simon, creator of Horrid Henry battles it out with Steven Butler, author of The Diary of Dennis the Menace to see which of their characters is the most utterly and horribly bad! Jacqueline Wilson will be introducing her delightful new story, Rent-a-Bridesmaid, and talking with me about her writing including the recent Hetty Feather titles and her anthology of animal stories, Paws and Whiskers. For older readers Holly Smale discusses Geek Girl and the importance of books for Young Adult readers and Malorie Blackman introduces Chasing the Stars, her retelling of Shakespeare’s Othello – with a difference!

 

Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell is appearing twice; he will unleash new drawings on his audience through a visualise in one event while in another he and a his friends, a group of new illustrators, will a great draw-off to equal anything that TV chefs can dream up. Pre-schoolers will love to celebrate 25 years of Elmer – dressed appropriately, of course – or the remarkable 150 years of Beatrix Potter. Roald Dahl’s glorious 100th will be marked by a debate pitching Miss Trunchbull against The Twits, the Grand High Witch and the bad, bad giants in The BFG in a mighty contest to see which is the most evil. Best-loved storyteller Michael Morpurgo is bringing his books to life through performances as is poet Roger McGough; both these much-loved writers show how children’s books reach out beyond children and to readers of all age groups.

 

And, if you’re looking for someone new to move onto, I’ve invited of host of brilliant new writers to unleash their stories for a new audience. These include David Solomons whose first book My Brother is a Super Hero has already won two major awards and M.G. Leonard’s highly original Beetle Boy which features a large Rhino Beetle as its central character. At Hay, M.G .is not only going to talk about the book but she is going to show a live rhino beetle, and some other impressive insects all of which will be carefully handled by Sarah Beynon who runs the nearby Bug centre.

 

And, if you ever tire of listening, in every corner of the Festival site there book based activities from crafts to performance for all ages.

 

At almost 30 years old, Hay prides itself on being a festival of ideas, culture and creativity as well as literature and Haydays matches that spirit perfectly. Come for a week or drop in for a day, there’s plenty to entertain the whole family every day.

 

For more information on the this year’s festival click here.

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