Saturday, 6 July 2013

Get reading!

What do you get when you cross Nook, The Evening Standard, Trafalgar Square, and Boris Johnson?

Mr Toad, avec wine
The answer is the 2013 Get Reading Festival, set to take place this year on July 13th. Next Saturday, famous authors will take to London's Trafalgar Square to encourage children from all over the UK to read. To kick-start the event, Boris Johnson read from The Wind In The Willows at a primary school in Battersea, hoping to introduce the ten-year-olds to something that isn't JK Rowling. Reading from a ereader by Nook (one of the festival's sponsors), the festival seems set to hook children with technology, thanks not only to ebook readers but also to interactive screens that will be set up in the square. Free to the public, the festival has been organised chiefly by broadsheet newspaper The Evening Standard.

The Mayor's Fund has already backed the newspaper's literacy campaign to the tune of £500,000, to help implement volunteer programmes in London schools in the hope of raising literacy levels. Now Nook has pledged 1000 ebook readers to the volunteers to further raise standards. Other leading publishers are on board too, with big names such as Hachette, Penguin and Random House all donating books to load onto the ereaders.

Excerpts from Matilda The Musical and War Horse are also set to feature in the upcoming festival, alongside respected children's authors such as Malorie Blackman and Anne Fine. Taking place from 11.00 until 5.00, the interested are encouraged to visit The Evening Standard's website for more details and to reserve their places. A wonderful opportunity for those easily able to travel to the capital, it could enable children who have so far shown little interest in reading to see how much fun it can be, as well as allowing those who already love reading to find their niche and meet others with similar interests.

With luck, this pilot project will see similar events being rolled out across the UK - every child needs to feel supported in their reading and such occasions allow reading to be part of a norm and reality, not the secret preserve of the geeky. And, with a little bit more luck, it'll show them that there's more to reading than JK Rowling.

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