Since setting up ‘Book Events for Children’, I’ve been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of book-related events for children that are taking place across the country; from one-off events at local bookshops to high-profile literary festivals. Why are we – and more importantly, our children – so keen on meeting and interacting with our favourite authors?
I’ve yet to attend an author event where the author didn’t capture and hold the rapt attention of their audience. Of the three excellent author events my children have attended recently – with Wes Magee, Emma Barnes & Emily Diamand – it has been the personal insight into the authors’ lives that has really caught their imagination. They loved hearing that Emma Barnes began creating stories to entertain her little sister whilst walking the dog and that Emily Diamand’s childhood involved digging ponds in her back garden and wanting to save the environment. Listening to authors discuss the inspiration for their writing and describing their own childhoods has made the authors seem more real and three-dimensional to my children. When they pick up Emma Barnes’ ‘How (Not) To Make Bad Children Good‘ to read, they’re likely to mention an anecdote that Emma told them in the writing workshop. No longer is the author just a name on the cover of a book.
As well as feeling a personal connection to the authors they’ve met, children become more aware of the whole creative process of writing a book through these encounters. In a writing workshop, children will be encouraged to explore characterisation, plot, imagery and even the cover design of their future book. The fact that my son returned from Emily Diamond’s workshop and HAD to write all his ideas down as he couldn’t keep them all in his head, is surely a testament to her skill in nurturing his creativity.
As parents, it’s our role to build upon the interest our children show in books,both through reading and encouraging them to write themselves. The importance that children themselves place upon reading and writing has been shown recently through the overwhelming response to to the ‘500 WORDS’ writing competition on Radio 2 and the popularity of the Red House Children’s Book Award (the only national book award that is entirely voted for by children.)
I think it’s amazing that in a world with so much entertainment on offer to children, they remain enthused and passionate about the books they love to read and the inspiring people who create them.