BookTastic’s Family Festival aims to ignite life-long passion for reading

Sarah McIntyre and Phillip Reeve (image: BookTastic)

BookTastic, Bedford’s children’s book festival, has announced the date of its autumn Family Festival which will take place at Bedford Academy.

The family event, designed to inspire even the most reluctant readers, will bring the biggest names in children’s books to Bedford on Sunday, 19 November.

And the festival will welcome back former BookTrust writer-illustrator in residence, Sarah McIntyre (Adventuremice; Pugs of the Frozen North) and Carnegie Medal-winning author and illustrator, Philip Reeve (Adventuremice; Mortal Engines; Here Lies Arthur) for a third time on the back of their triumphant appearance back in July.

On a mission to instil a love of reading in all children, BookTastic believes that when children discover the magic that exists inside a book, literacy becomes a pleasure, not a chore.

The festival has proved hugely popular amongst schools, teachers and pupils since it launched in 2014, with the schools’ programme reaching 16,000 schools this July.

The events are developed in partnership with children, their families and schools to ensure they are fun and engaging, and to make the creation of each festival a truly collaborative and dynamic experience.

BookTastic aims to inspire a passion for books and reading in all children and families, whether they are existing book lovers or are new to reading and book festivals.

To make the event welcoming to everyone, nearly three-quarters of the tickets have been ringfenced for children and families worst affected by disadvantage, supported by local and national funders, including Arts Council England and Harpur Trust.

Partnering with schools in areas most affected by disadvantage to engage new audiences, families will attend the festival in school groups, accompanied by a teacher, to create an exciting school trip experience.

These families will receive a free pass to the event for the whole family, plus refreshments, and a copy of the featured book, with the opportunity to meet the authors and illustrators and get their books signed.

Teachers will also receive free family passes and the same benefits on the day as the families they accompany.

“The aim is to create the full literary festival experience for everyone, regardless of how they come to attend,” said a BookTastic spokesperson.

BookTastic founder, Rachel Rogan (image: BookTastic)

BookTastic was set up in Bedford by Rachael Rogan in 2014 and the festival has gone from strength to strength, despite a global pandemic. The events can be live-streamed by schools throughout the UK, enabling thousands of children to take part and develop a love of literature.

“It is crucial for children to develop a genuine love of reading when research has indicated that it is the gateway to literacy,” said Rachel.

“BookTastic creates spaces that allow these formative experiences to take place and it is important to make this accessible to all children, regardless of their background.

“I am so excited to share this year’s brilliant lineup and am ever grateful for the support of our fantastic authors, illustrators and partners.”

Sarah McIntyre and Philip Reeve said they can’t wait to return to Bedford as part of this year’s festival.

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“We really enjoyed our visit to Bedford for the BookTastic schools events in July, which were a great opportunity to meet and inspire young readers,” said Sarah.

“We could clearly see the joy on the children’s faces as they got excited about reading and storytelling,” said Philip.

“We’re hugely looking forward to sharing our books, drawing sessions, and story-building games with family audiences too.

“Huge thanks to the BookTastic team for all the hard work they put into making this fabulous event happen!”

Due to the popularity of this event, the festival has moved to a larger venue for November – the theatre at Bedford Academy has a capacity of 350, with extensive parking, meaning it is easier than ever to take part. 

Any families wanting to join the fun can purchase tickets from the BookTastic website – and for those wanting to contribute to the BookTastic mission, there is the option to donate a copy of the book to the school library of participating schools. Just visit theirthe BookTastic website

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