Today, March the 5th, marks World Book Day, an annual celebration encouraging the joy that books and reading for pleasure can bring to our youngest readers, a message that feeds into the very heart of the Felixstowe Book Festival.
The benefits of reading for pleasure are innumerable and lifelong. Research suggests that reading regularly and out of choice as a child leads to strong academic capabilities and good mental health and general wellbeing; it also contributes to the emergence of compassionate, emotionally intelligent children, thanks to many journeys from a very young age into the lives and worlds of others.
We were lucky at our 2019 children’s festival to welcome some wonderful authors and many lovely, literary minded people, all committed to encouraging reading for pleasure to our young audience. We doodled with Alex Milway and his friends from the Hotel Flamingo and went back in time to the Second World War with Ally Sherrick, author of The Buried Crown. Hayley Long inspired the young poets of Felixstowe Academy to create their very own anthology of work and Sophie Green invited us into her mysterious world of Potkin and Stubbs (incidentally book 3 of the Potkin and Stubbs trilogy Ghostcatcher will be launched on March 5th!) Ruth Fitzgerald and James Campbell made us howl with laughter and Rapscallion Theatre Company sent us shooting off into Space to mark 50 years since man landed on the moon. We very much look forward to welcoming some equally fantastic authors and speakers to our 2020 festival.
This year, our friends at World Book Day are challenging the nation’s children and young people to, quite simply, share a story for ten minutes on the 5th of March. This could be with a friend, a relative, a teacher, a librarian or just to anyone with a pair of willing ears who happens to be nearby. Stories can be shared at school, on the beach, during a walk in the woods, in the garden, at the library, over dinner, on the way to a swimming lesson, when you’re taking the dog for a walk or whilst you feed the cat – anywhere!
So book lovers, we here at the Felixstowe Book Festival throw down this literary gauntlet and ask you to do the same. A love of books can start at birth and does not have to stop at childhood – we beseech you to head to your local independent book shop or stop off at your local library and choose yourself a new book to enjoy.
“So please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install a lovely bookshelf on the wall.” – Roald Dahl