The Bookfeast Schools Festival is an annual event held at various interesting and inspiring venues in Oxford. In the past these have included Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Pitt Rivers Museum, the Weston Library, the Ashmolean, The North Wall and the Story Museum. In 2017 we were fortunate enough to move the Festival to St Hugh’s College, Oxford.
Taking place over three to four days in May, we aim to offer around 2,000 primary school pupils the opportunity to meet top children’s authors, illustrators and poets. With bookselling managed by Waterstones Oxford, children are able to buy books at the events and have them signed by the author.
In addition to the Schools Festival Bookfeast organises a number of one-off author events around the county at other times of the year. Our next event is with Kristina Stephenson on Tuesday 16th July at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. This event is now sold out.
Bookfeast Schools Festival 2019
Our 2019 Festival ran from 8th-10th May at St Hugh’s College, Oxford. Children’s authors, illustrators and poets taking part this year included:
P.G. Bell, Steven Butler, Teresa Heapy, Pip Jones & Laura Hughes, Laura James & Emily Fox, Kieran Larwood, Ben Lyttleton, Kita Mitchell, Karl Newson, Sally Nicholls, Helen Peters and the Word Wizards.
Over 1000 Oxfordshire primary school children attended this year’s Festival, with sixteen events and workshops offered over the three days. Around 180 KS2 children took part in the trail around St Hugh’s College as part of their Festival experience. Many thanks again to St Hugh’s College, Oxford, for hosting and for all the support from Oxford University Community Fund and St Michael’s and All Saints’ Charities.
Here are some of the comments we received from the authors, teachers and children who attended Festival 2019:
“….what a marvellous enterprise Bookfeast is!” Teresa Heapy (participating author)
“Thank you very much for inviting me to take part in this year’s Bookfeast festival. The whole experience was a pleasure – the event was welcoming, well organised, and the two schools who attended my event were lively and engaged.” P.G. Bell (participating author)
“I really, really, REALLY enjoyed my time here and I would recommend it to everyone. It is a lovely and fun experience!” Year 6 pupil, St Nicholas’ Primary School
“Felt really happy that I came!” Pupil, Little Milton Primary School
“Children were so excited and engaged. We had the best time!” Teacher, St Michael’s, Steventon
“An inspirational presentation!” Teacher, SS Mary & John, about Helen Peters’ event
“The children were so inspired by the journey of writing and editing and we will definitely come again.” Teacher, Wolvercote, about Kieran Larwood’s event
Information about previous Festivals
Bookfeast Schools Festival 2018
The 2018 Bookfeast Schools Festival took place in May at St Hugh’s College, Oxford, with eighteen events over the three days and a wonderful array of top children’s authors and illustrators including Philip Ardagh & Elissa Elwick, Matt Carr, Tracey Corderoy, Elys Dolan, Abi Elphinstone, Claire Fayers, Pip Jones & Adam Stower, Jennifer Killick, Layn Marlow, Tom Percival, Tony de Saulles, Kaye Umansky, Steve Webb and Jeanne Willis. Seventeen Oxfordshire primary schools attended the Festival bringing around 1600 pupils from Foundation stage through to Year 6. The children enjoyed an engaging range of interactive and entertaining sessions which aimed to inspire and encourage their interest in books and reading. Three hundred children took part in an additional exploration trail around the college and its beautiful grounds, finding out about its history and what life is like as a student at Oxford University. BBC Radio Oxford recorded for its Kids’ Book Club during some of the Festival’s events, and Waterstones ran busy book stalls at each venue so that children could buy and get a book signed by the author.
Here’s just some of the positive feedback we received:
“An inspiring event organized by a great charity.” Literacy co-ordinator, Wood Farm primary school
“An interactive and inspirational day celebrating books.” Teacher, St John Fisher primary school
“Children loved it, very inspired and engaged.” Teacher
“I feel inspired by what she told us.” Y5 pupil, Edward Feild primary school at author Abi Elphinstone’s event
“Absolutely super, such inspiration for all children who attend!” Teacher, St Aloysius primary school
“I never knew I could draw, now look at me!” Pupil, Appleton primary school at author/illustrator Tony de Saulles’ event
“It makes you think about books in a different way.” Pupil, St Aloysius primary school at Tony de Saulles’ event
“I enjoyed meeting the authors and looking around the college.” Pupil, King’s Meadow primary school
“Engaging and informative for the children.” Teacher, Church Cowley St James primary school
“So much fun!” Y1 teacher, St Barnabas primary school
“A perfect opportunity to meet an author up close and be inspired by their thoughts and ideas. A lot of laughs too!” Y5 teacher, Wolvercote primary school at author Steve Webb’s event
“It was really interesting and fun. The author made the session really good.” Y5 pupil, New Hinksey primary school at Claire Fayers’ event
“Tour guides were great and it was good to motivate the children about further education.” Y5 teacher, King’s Meadow Primary School
“Just to say thanks for another fantastic Bookfeast! ….the events went really well, with really engaged audiences and great book sales.” Publicity Manager at OUP
Previous Bookfeast Festivals…..
Bookfeast Schools Festival 2017
We would like to thank the St Hugh’s community for enabling us to host the Bookfeast Schools Festival at the College in May 2017. We greatly appreciated the support of the Principal and key Fellows. The event would not have been possible without the invaluable help of the Conference Office, Thea Crapper, Luke Jackson-Ross, Kate Mellersh and the IT team.
The Festival was an enormous success:
- 1740 Primary School children came to Festival events, plus 215 accompanying teachers and other adults, between May 16th and May 19th.
- There were 21 author sessions, with 16 participating authors and illustrators, including Michael Rosen, Piers Torday, Cas Lester, Jo Cotterill, Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Tom Moorhouse and Holly Swain, Pip Jones, Clare Vulliamy and Polly Faber, Laura Wood, Teresa Heapy, Pip Jones, Yasmin Ismail, Gary Northfield and Suzanne Barton.
- 21 schools attended, from all across Oxfordshire. Of these, 20 were state schools.
- 291 children participated in a trail exploring the College grounds and history.
Visiting St Hugh’s College had a significant impact on pupils and school staff:
“Great to be here and see what a college is like – we really need to raise aspirations.” Teacher, North Kidlington primary school
Bookfeast Schools Festival 2016
The 2016 Bookfeast Schools Festival was a huge success involving around 1800 pupils from 22 Oxfordshire primary schools. We ran 16 author sessions during Festival week including two Shakespeare Focus events to tie in with Oxford’s own celebrations to mark the death of Shakespeare. In addition, to extend the reach of the Bookfeast Festival, arts organisation Flash of Splendour delivered 5 unique Shakespeare workshops for children in Y5-6 at schools around the county. Around 400 children also took part in additional and enriching experiences after their author sessions – a creative writing trail (Pitt Rivers) and tours of two exhibitions: Animal (Story Museum) and Shakespeare’s Dead (Weston Library).
Authors taking part in the Bookfeast Festival in 2016 included: Atinuke, Sarah Courtauld, Julia Golding, Adam & Charlotte Guillain, A.F. Harrold, Cas Lester, Gill Lewis, M.G. Leonard, Christopher Lloyd, Lauren St John, Robin Stevens, Sean Taylor, Sam Watkins, Marcia Williams and Katherine Woodfine.
Events varied from ‘sing-alongs’ with pirates to African storytelling, practical sessions on how to write crime fiction and mysteries, and stories featuring talking beetles, Jekyll and Hyde teachers, dragons, unconventional fairies and dogs of all shapes and sizes. One courageous author brought along her own inspiration for her latest series – Murphy the Leonberger (see photos below) who wowed his audience with his passion for sausages and his high fives.
Bookfeast would like to thank all the wonderful and inspiring venues for hosting Festival 2016 events: Pitt Rivers Museum, The Story Museum, the Weston Library, the North Wall and the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. These venues add so much to the children’s overall Festival experience, and the authors love visiting them too!
“Such a lot to inspire them! Especially good to see those children who might not have visited or experienced such a setting so excited and inspired.” Teacher, Beckley primary school
“Thank you for organising such a wonderful event!” Teacher, Fringford primary school
“Very interactive, fun and at the right level for the children. Would recommend!” Teacher, St Barnabas primary school
“I enjoyed seeing Shakespeare in comic strip form and having the opportunity to ask Marcia questions.” Pupil, St Christopher’s primary school
“I loved meeting Murphy the dog and seeing him perform his tricks on stage.” Y3 pupil, Holy Trinity primary school, Chipping Norton
For more information about the Bookfeast Schools Festival contact email@example.com
Bookfeast Schools Festival thanks our sponsors and supporters:
Oxford University Community Fund
St Michael’s and All Saints’ Charities