Arts Derbyshire


Derby Book Festival celebrates World Book Day

Derby Book Festival celebrates World Book Day with the announcement of exciting plans to bring books to life for children and young people in Derby as part of its programme this year.  The Festival, which is funded by the University of Derby and Arts Council England as well as local business and individual sponsors, will be held from 19 – 27 May.

The highlights of its schools’ programme are the annual Meet the Author events. Each Derby city primary school is invited to send a group of six children plus two teachers to two events at Derby Theatre, which are livestreamed to around 60 schools across the city and also the county.  In 2022 over 11,000 children joined in either in-person or online.  This year’s Meet the Author events, which are sponsored by local educational supplier Cosy, will include the current Children’s Laureate, poet Joseph Coelho and author and former Derby school teacher, Lesley Parr, whose third book Where the River Takes Us is published on 1­­­­­6 March.

For secondary schools, this year’s Meet the Author is John Boyne, author of the international bestseller and now a classic, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, which was made into a Miramax feature film and has sold more than eleven million copies worldwide.  John will fly in from Dublin for the event, to be held in one of the city’s secondary schools which will also be livestreamed.  His latest book, All the Broken Places, is a sequel which he will discuss at the Closing Event of this year’s Derby Book Festival.

Fifty-one Derby schools will participate in the fifth Derby Children’s Picture Book Award.  Each of the 169 classes have received copies of the three shortlisted books which they will read in class over the next few weeks.  The Award celebrates picture books that children can relate to and in which the diversity and challenges of modern life are represented.  This year a record number of 52 books were submitted by 20 publishers across the country and a group of 10 Derby primary school teachers selected the shortlist.  On 28 March, 5,600 children will vote for their favourite of the three books, which will be announced on 30 March. A special online event with the winning author and illustrator will be held in the summer term so all the children can meet them.

This year’s shortlist comprises:

  • ‘My Granny is a Queen’ by Madeleine Cook and Rebecca Ashdown (Oxford University Press)
  • ‘Human Town’ by Alan Durant and Anna Doherty (Tiny Owl Publishing)
  • ‘Stop the Clock’ by Pippa Goodhart and Maria Christania (Tiny Owl Publishing)

Di Smith, an educational consultant and Festival Trustee who devised and organises the Award, said: “We are delighted that each year the number of children and schools taking part in the Award increases – as well as the number of books that are submitted by publishers. We have an excellent and varied shortlist of books which will give children the opportunity to see a window on their world and a mirror in which to see themselves.”

Paula from Firs Estate Primary School, whose pupils have been involved with the Award in previous years, said: “It is lovely to get the chance to spend time looking at books with a focus on celebrating diversity and belonging.”

The Festival has just held the judging for this year’s Fifty Word Flash Fiction writing competition with over 500 entries.  Children and young people had their own categories (11 and under and 12 – 17s) and a record number of children took part this year, with several schools including the activity in class.  Winners will be announced in May.

This year’s Festival will also include a special event, The Big Book Bonanza, organised in partnership with Déda, on Saturday 27 May from 12noon – 4pm at Déda and outside along Chapel Street.  There will be two children’s street theatre shows, craft activities, book stalls and activities for children and families including workshops.

Liz Fothergill CBE, Chair of Derby Book Festival said: “One of the Festival’s key aims is to inspire a new generation of readers to appreciate the joy that books and reading bring to our lives.  World Book Day is a great celebration of this joy and we hope that our Festival projects can only continue to inspire children by introducing them to some of the best children’s authors in the world.”

Professor Keith McLay, Provost – Learning and Teaching at the University of Derby, said: “Sharing ideas, knowledge and creativity are crucial to learning, so it is particularly pleasing to see the Festival focus on encouraging children to get involved and engage with reading.

“Derby Book Festival expands and develops each year, offering an exciting programme of events for all to get involved in, and we are delighted to continue to support it.”

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