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Literature festival prompt reading for pleasure

Taking time off this morning to read the Saturday papers and once again there’s an article about children not reading books. This time it’s Nick Hornby, who is complaining about his own children.

A part of me feels that this is a continuum of the eternal parental complaint that the next generation don’t behave as they did. Roman parents probably complained that their children just used wax tablets to write rude jokes to each other and not compose eclogues. But I also worry that the new technologies do provide so much visual stimulation that books feel pedestrian. And I’m thinking about this since the national paper in question asked me for a quote about the problem and why it is important that children read. Are we as adults just agonising over it because we (parents and adults) read so much, they asked, or because there was nothing else to do when we were growing up Is reading for pleasure of any intrinsic value to children?

When it comes to the last question the reply was simple: every study on reading has shown that reading for pleasure is one of the most important factors in terms of how children develop and even on how much they will earn in the future. It is even more important than their social backgrounds.

And this is one reason why we decided to create UEA’s Festival of Literature for Young people (FLY). We knew that meeting authors and being inspired by them is a brilliant way of inspiring young people to read for pleasure. You only need one trigger and, as all book-lovers know, you’re off. A passion for reading lasts a lifetime. And that many schools didn’t have the money or time to organise author visits. And being the home of the UEA Creative Writing Programme, we also wanted to incorporate creative writing workshops into the Festival. So students didn’t just have the opportunity to hear writers, but have a chance to write and get tips from published writers.

And what did the Festival show us about young people and books? That a great many of them love books, that there are more authors writing great stories for young people than ever before. Indeed, programming FLY is never a problem. There is a wealth of great writers, and this year’s Festival, which takes place from 20 – 24 June, has a clutch of them including David Almond, Lisa Williamson, Tanya Landman, Mitch Benn, the current children’ s laureate Chris Riddell and many more.

FLY is a festival where those who don’t read for pleasure can be inspired to pick up a book and those who love books can celebrate their passion. As one Norfolk sixth-former said recently: “I’ve only just discovered FLY and I feel really disappointed that I didn’t get the chance to go to it before.”

Exams and league tables may be all that so many teachers can think about today, but a trip to a literary festival for young people may be just what they and their students need.

The full FLY programme follows. Why not see what other festivals are happening near you?


FLY Festival of Literature 2016

Please contact for further information
University of East Anglia, Norwich, Norfolk

Highlights this year include the hugely talented Children’s Laureate, Chris Riddell, the brilliant David Almond, Carnegie 2015 winner Tanya Landman and this year’s Waterstones Children’s Book Prize winner, Lisa Williamson. It’s going to be a fantastic week!

FLY in the City – Norwich, Thursday 23 June

Due to the popularity of last year’s event, FLY in the City is back! With events at the Castle and the Millennium Library, students will have the opportunity to enjoy workshops in these wonderful venues. Limited places available.

FLY Sixth Form Day – Norwich, Thursday 23 June

We invite sixth formers to our engaging and informative day of author talks, panel discussions and workshops with the opportunity to find out more about studying Creative Writing and Literature at university. Authors include Holly Bourne, Tanya Landman, Bali Rai and Nikesh Shukla. Email to book now.

Calling future journalists…

We’re searching for 10 inspiring young people to be the eyes and ears of FLY this year. If you are in years 9-13, we want to hear from you!
The full programme including our inspiring workshops will be at very soon.

FLY is aimed at 11-18 year olds and takes place on Monday 20 – Friday 24 June. Please click here for more information including pricing and key dates.

Posted by Antoinette Moses on Tue, 14 Feb 2017

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Antoinette Moses has published over 20 books of Language Learner Literature and teaches Creative Writing at UEA. She is the Producer of FLY.

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