Fun Children's Books Festival a 'truly national event'
Activities galore, for all styles and tastes, take place around the country to inspire youngsters to read, says Andrea Byrne
You only have to look at the success of the likes of JK Rowling and Derek Landy (Winner of the Irish Book of the Decade) to realise that children's literature is big business.
Our youth have a ferocious appetite for books. And as any parent will tell you, if you get them hooked early, they'll be readers for life. However, encouragement alone is not enough to ensure your child will become an avid reader -- the key is to make it as fun as possible.
And what better way to do that than by bringing them to a books festival, one that is designed specifically for them and one in which the children themselves get to participate in.
The fun of the Children's Books Festival starts on Friday, with more than 50 authors and illustrators due to visit libraries, schools and arts centres during the course of the month.
Other activities include storytelling sessions, print-making workshops, quizzes and competitions -- ensuring there will be countless opportunities for children to strike up new friendships with books of all styles and genres. What's great, too, is that it's a nationwide festival, with events organised all over the country.
In what is definitely a festival highlight, John Boyne, best-selling author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, will be making a welcome return to the children's books scene with readings from his highly anticipated new novel, Noah Barleywater Runs Away.
American author Maggie Stiefvater (Shiver), multi-award-winner Sophie McKenzie (The Medusa Project) and international best-seller Michael Scott (creator of the Nicholas Flamel series) are also due to make special appearances at the festival.
Young comedy fans are also in for a treat, with UK authors Steve Cole and Keith Charters set to introduce Irish audiences to their hilariously funny books.
Budding artists will see a strong focus on illustration and comic books, with artists such as Bruce Ingman (Boing!, When Martha's Away) and Gary Northfield (Derek the Sheep, Sleeping Beauty), sharing their skills in a special series of creative workshops.
This year's festival will also see the return of the incredibly successful O'Brien Press Cover Design Competition, which gives budding designers the opportunity to have their artwork featured on the cover of a professionally published book.
If you need further incentive, teen audiences will be well catered for when Sarah Webb, Judi Curtin and Sophia Bennett hit the road for their Wildest Dreams tour of Limerick, Cork and Dublin.
Tom Donegan, of Children's Books Ireland, which organises the successful festival, says: "We're delighted to be showcasing such a strong contingent of Irish authors and illustrators in this October's programme, including both new names and familiar faces.
"In such a challenging year, it is also incredibly positive that we are able to maintain the festival as a truly national event. It really is testimony to the creativity, talent and enthusiasm to be found around Irish children's literature at the moment, from the artists and publishers who produce the books, to the teachers and librarians who do so much important work on the ground."
For more details, call Tom Donegan, CBI programme officer, on (01) 872 7475 or see www.childrensbooksireland.ie.