Bookfeast for Children

Bookfeast Schools Festival

Schools events for Oxon Primary Schools were run first of all under the umbrella of Oxford Literary Festival Education & Outreach which then became the independent charity Bookfeast in 2010.  But always with a commitment to providing a high quality of outreach work for schools.

Bookfeast’s mission to inspire a love of reading began in 2011 with the annual Bookfeast Schools festival, taking place over three or four days each May in Oxford.

Between 2011 and 2019, we welcomed over 17000 primary aged children to 177 events involving 120 authors, illustrators and poets, all taking place in iconic Oxford venues:

The Oxford Union

The Oxford Playhouse

Ashmolean Museum

The Story Museum

The Pitt Rivers Museum

The Natural History Museum

The Museum of the History of Science

Pegasus Theatre

Oxford Arts Festival at Magdalen College School

Westgate Library

The North Wall Theatre

Lady Margaret Hall

St Hugh’s College

Cornerstone Theatre, Didcot

Blackwells Bookshop

Holywell Music Room

Kristina Stephenson talk at the North Wall

During Festival time Bookfeast also offered a host of other activities to schools such as creative writing trails in the museums, walking trails in the colleges, Shakespeare workshops creating Playbills and in-school writing workshops with Flash of Splendour Arts.

A full list of the authors, illustrators and poets who have taken part in the Bookfeast Schools Festival can be found here.

Competitions

These started with Poetry Slams for secondary schools held at the Oxford Playhouse and then grew into a multi faceted competition called A Question of Words, held at the North Wall.

For primary schools there were annual short story or poetry writing competitions and participation in larger arts projects such as Shakespeare in Oxford, The Ark as well as the Arts Council’s Arts Awards.

Beyond the Festival

Outside Festival time we have also run stand-alone events bringing festival partnership schools together to meet an author at venues that included The North Wall, The Story Museum and D’overbroecks. The most recent was July 2019 at Lady Margaret Hall’s Simpkins Lee Theatre where Kristina Stephenson enthralled 230 Year 1 and 2 children from four schools with a theatrical and musical introduction to her new book, Why are there so many books about bears? An inspiring day in so many ways as it also included a wonderful introduction to university life from Professor Sophie Ratcliffe and a trail around the beautiful gardens at Lady Margaret Hall.

The Festival and our Events programme has been made possible over the years by a number of sponsors, many of whom have supported us on numerous occasions – and to whom we are very grateful. They include:  Oxfordshire County Council, Arts Council England, OUP, Felicity Bryan Agency, Pearson Education, the University of Oxford Community Fund, St Michael’s & All Saints’ Charities, Oxford University Museums, St Edward’s School and the North Wall, St Hugh’s College, Lady Margaret Hall, Blackwell’s, Waterstones, The Story Museum, the Weston Library, D’Overbroeck’s and the Holywell Music Room

Funding for a large annual festival has, however, become harder to secure in recent years. Bookfeast will now review its role in securing high quality, great value, inspirational literary events for Oxfordshire primary pupils.

Lunchboox Clubs for Schools


Another key strand of Bookfeast’s work with children over the years has been the network of Lunchboox book clubs for schools, running in up to 20 schools annually.  The clubs were designed for children in Years 5&6 to come to together with a volunteer group leader once a week during lunchtime, to discover and share some of the best new writing for young readers, allowing them to enjoy new authors, explore stories outside their comfort zone and develop the language and confidence to share opinions.

Lunchboox has Michael Rosen as its Patron, and at the heart of the project is the desire to help schools to become, or further establish themselves, as ‘book-loving schools’.

Since September 2019, the network of Lunchboox Clubs has been adopted and run by The Story Museum (www.storymuseum.org.uk). For schools’ enquiries, please contact Isy Mead at isy.mead@storymuseum.org.uk or if you are interested in volunteering at a Lunchboox club in a school, please contact Jessica Corfield at Jessica.corfield@storymuseum.org.uk.