Barnes Children’s Literature Festival 2023

Last Updated on : 11th May 2023

Barnes children’s literature festival returns for ninth year as uk’s largest dedicated children’s literature festival.

Expanded free schools programme to offer 13,000 places for children over 5 venues and 9 days.

‘Delightful, imaginative, innovative – and beautifully organised.’
Dame Jacqueline Wilson

‘London now has a world class children’s book festival’
SF Said

  • Festival will headline with events from bestselling authors Sir Lenny Henry; Sir Michael Morpurgo; Cressida Cowell and Dara McAnulty
  • Appearances fromaward-winning illustrators: Axel Scheffler, Lauren Child; Chris Riddell and Lydia Monks
  • Award-winningauthors M.G. Leonard; Elle McNichol; Hannah Gold; Emma Carroll and Sophie Anderson promise adventure; storytelling; historical facts and writing tips for middle-graders
  • Festival branding from ex Waterstones’ Children’s Laureate, Cressida Cowellwho is celebrating 20th anniversary of How to Train Your Dragon at Barnes!A rare appearance from Judith Kerr’s daughterTacy Knealeas she remembers her mother, with Sir Michael Morpurgo and Lauren Child, to celebrate the 100th birthday of Barnes’ beloved resident of over sixty years.
  • The London premiere of Borka: The Opera to celebrate sixty years of John Burningham’s classic

For the ninth year running, Barnes will become the children’s books capital of the UK when the Barnes Children’s Literature Festival returns from 18th May to Sunday 25 June 2023.  The completely free Primary Schools’ Programme has been expanded once again to offer 13,000 children the chance to see an author or illustrator event at five sites in Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth, Kingston, Twickenham Stadium and Barnes.

The UK’s largest dedicated children’s literature festival will return with a packed public programme of more than 100 author events, performances and free activities on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 June.

Public Programme – 24 and 25th June

Comedy legend, Sir Lenny Henry; master storyteller, Sir Michael Morpurgo; multi-award winning author and environmental campaigner Dara McAnulty; Charlie and Lola creator, Lauren Child and million-selling author and illustrator Cressida Cowell will lead the line-up at the UK’s largest dedicated children’s books event and has also designed this year’s Festival poster which will celebrate 20 years of her much-loved How To Train Your Dragon books.  Festival-favourite illustrators Axel Scheffler, who will celebrate 30 years of working with Julia Donaldson, and Lydia Monks will share tips, stories and live drawings.

A highlight will be a very special event to celebrate the centenary of beloved Barnes’ resident Judith Kerr, who lived and worked in the village for over sixty years. Judith’s daughter Tacy Kneale will join with Judith’s dear friends, the former Children’s Laureates, Sir Michael Morpurgo and Lauren Child as they chat to Nicolette Jones, the children’s books editor of The Sunday Times, to remember her remarkable life.

There’s plenty of fun for non-fiction fans too with superstar space scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock who will answer the big questions for children and talk about her new non-fiction book Am I Made of Stardust?  Acclaimed historian and broadcaster Tom Holland (Making History, The Rest is History etc) introduces his blockbuster retelling of the Persian Wars for children.  And Gareth P Jones will teach children how to play detective with his Solve Your Own Mystery books.

Other confirmed authors over the two day public weekend include the middle grade marvels M.G. Leonard, Elle McNichol, Emma Carroll, Hannah Gold, Onjali Q Rauf, Christopher Edge, A F Steadman and Sophie Anderson

Some of the best known names from picture books promise to delight pre-schoolers including David Litchfield, Ed Vere, Matty Long, Nicola Davies and James & Lucy Catchpole who all have special events to keep little minds active all day long.   

Once again at Barnes, the littlest book fans are not forgotten with an appearance by Laura Henry-Allain MBE, from CBeebies’ JoJo and Gran GranPaddington Bear’s First Concert and a show of The Jolly Postman.

There are shows for older children too with the London premiere of the new family opera version of Borka, based on John Burningham’s classic picture book; Roald Dahl and the Imagination Seekers;  Meet Pippi LongstockingMr Dilly’s Alice in Wonderland and workshops with Aardman Animations, manga Illustration with Chie Kutsuwada (Tsunami Girl), and Dungeons & Dragons with Lucas Maxwell

Education Programme: 18 May – 23 June

Barnes’ stellar programme extends to their renowned free Primary Schools Programme which has been expanded once again this year to five venues: the Genesis Theatre in Tower Hamlets (18 and 19 May), The Rose Theatre in Kingston (13 June); the Wandsworth Civic Suite (15 and 16 June), Twickenham stadium (19 June) and four days in Barnes (21 to 23 June) to offer 13,000 children the chance to see an author or illustrator for free.

Authors and illustrators ready to inspire children and their teachers in Key Stage One include Nathan Byron & Dapo Adeola; hilarious picture book pairs Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet; superstar pairing Karl Newson & Duncan Beedie and bestselling author and illustrator Kristina Stephenson who returns with her much-loved show.

The Key Stage Two programme stars Waterstone’s Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho; Waterstones Children’s Book Prize winner Onjali Q Rauf; teachers’ favourite Frank Cottrell-Boycewinner of The Blue Peter Book Award 2022 and the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, Hannah Gold; critically acclaimed Ross WelfordEmma Carroll and Abi Elphinstone and hilarious Steven Lenton.

After the huge success of the 2022 Festival, which sold over 10,000 tickets and more than £21,000 worth of books, Barnes will offer something for everybody of all ages, whatever their reading interests or abilities.

Amanda Brettargh, Festival Director said “The Barnes Children’s Literature Festival brings the whole community together for one weekend to promote the power of reading, writing and creativity to more and more children every year from all over London and the UK. The Festival has transformed Barnes into the UK’s capital of children’s literature and it is a source of huge pride that we’ll be the centre of the centenary celebrations of our beloved Judith Kerr and that so many of the world’s favourite stories and poems were born here including The Tiger Who Came to Tea and Mog the Cat, Jan Pienkowski’s Meg and Mog and Roger McGough’s The Sound Collector.”

The Festival is centred around Barnes Green beside Judith Kerr’s much loved duck pond, that lends it’s village fair feel and this year will include a wider, entirely outdoor programme with free family activities, live music and performances and circus acts.

The Festival is presented in partnership with the University of Roehampton and Waterstones, who will act as bookseller. Tickets for the public programme will go on sale on 13th  May:  https://www.barneskidslitfest.org/

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