Reading is Magic Festival is back!

We are so excited to announce that the Reading is Magic Festival will return from 27 September – 1 October! We have once again teamed up with festivals across the globe to create a digital book festival for schools and families. There will be so many writers, illustrators and poets taking part in our five-day festival which can be beamed straight into your into schools and homes.

Mr McInnes class during the Reading is Magic Festival 2020

Mr McInnes class during the Reading is Magic Festival 2020

You might remember that we took our name from Waterstones Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell, the internationally bestselling author-illustrator of the How to Train Your Dragon series and a tireless campaigner for children’s literacy. Cressida coined the term, ‘reading is magic and magic is for everyone’ as she set out her ten-part manifesto championing young people when she became the Waterstones Children’s Laureate in 2019. She will also take part in this year’s festival and share her latest project Life-changing Libraries, which showcases the transformative impact a well-resourced primary school library has on a child’s opportunities in life alongside the vast inequality facing children across England.

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Joining the free and inclusive programme in 2021 is Michael Rosen, author of many children’s favourites including We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. The former Waterstones Children’s Laureate creates author events which are loved by children and parents alike. Also bringing inter-active events to the festival are illustrator Rob Biddulph, the artist behind the online hit Draw With Rob, Laura Ellen Anderson, illustrator and creator of Amelia Fang and Frank Cottrell Boyce, author of laugh-out-loud books for children, including Millions and who worked with Danny Boyle to write the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony.

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We will also have talks from YA authors Holly Bourne and Will Sutcliffe (whose book Whatever Makes You Happy became a hit Netflix film Otherhood), graphic novelist Alice Oseman, poet Rebecca Tantony and US middle grade author BB Alston, creator of Amari and the Night Brothers. There will hands-on projects to do at home or in the classroom, draw-alongs and plenty of inspiration to get children reading and writing.

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 Over the five days, from Monday 27 September to Friday 1 October, different themes from Cressida Cowell’s Waterstones Children’s Laureate Charter will be discussed. These range from empowering children to play their part in looking after the area where they live, to opening discussions about issues facing LGBTQ+ and disabled people as well as the power of friendship. There will be events that encourage creativity in words and pictures and others to make young people think about what they want from books and relationships.

Every child has the right to…”

Monday “…be creative for at least 15 minutes a week”

Tuesday “…have a planet to read on”

Wednesday “…see themselves reflected in a book”

Thursday “…have some choice in what they read”

Fridayread for the joy of it

As with last year’s festival we have teamed up with festival partners in different parts of the world, with events coming from Kingston in Jamaica, Toronto and Dublin, among others. The partnership of festivals and programmers is made up of Bath Children’s Literature Festival, Boswell Book Festival, Bradford Literature Festival, Kingston Book Festival, the Irish Children’s Laureate, New Dutch Writing, Seven Stories, Toronto International Festival of Authors and Wigtown Book Festival.

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 “We loved all the different videos aimed at different year groups this meant the whole school could participate. We created a Reading is Magic corridor full of potions for the perfect book, a big display on how we can save the Earth, magical vocabulary artwork taken from our favourite magical stories, Reception even managed to draw illustrations from their favourite books!” – Feedback from a teacher whose school was involved in the 2020 festival.

Kristina Stephenson at last year’s festival

Kristina Stephenson at last year’s festival

 “Sharing is at the heart of the Reading is Magic Festival and sharing stories has never been more important. It was an absolute pleasure to be asked to produce an online event for the Borders Book Festival, in the hope of reaching out to entertain and inspire families at home. How utterly amazing then to have that reach extended nationally and internationally by the genius concept of a shared festival platform. To be afforded the opportunity to introduce my books to so many new readers in this way has been a privilege. In the true spirit of sharing, the Reading is Magic Festival is magic indeed!” author-illustrator Kristina Stephenson.

 Thank you to our supporters Ballie Gifford, to our sponsors Kingswood School and Novia, to our media partners Fun Kids Radio and First News and to our accessibility partners Calibre Audio for their continued support.

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