Beanstalk BookFest returns for 2017 20 October 2017 Children’s authors and performers have come together to put on a free literacy festival to bring the magic of books and stories to over 400 children from 14 primary schools across inner London as part of BookFest 2017. The event marks the 2nd year of the annual Beanstalk BookFest, organised by children’s literacy charity Beanstalk and held across two venues which have been generously provided by Frances Holland School in Belgravia and the Chickenshed Theatre in Southgate. Beanstalk helps children who struggle with their reading by providing trained volunteer reading helpers who work one-to-one with children in primary schools and early years’ settings. Each year Beanstalk invites its London partner schools to attend Beanstalk BookFest, which is always generously supported by authors and performers who give their time to deliver inspiring talks and interactive sessions for the children. This year children were treated to the likes of Alex T Smith, author and illustrator of the Claude books and Mr Penguin and the Lost Treasure, Maz Evans, author of Who Let the Gods Out and the sequel Simply the Quest, as well as the Really Big Pants Theatre Company performing their show Suddenly! Each child also had their Beanstalk BookFest completed by receiving a book gift, which was generously provided by the parents of Frances Holland School. “The idea behind Beanstalk BookFest has always been to offer a free and all-inclusive literacy experience for primary school children that may not have been to such an event before. The reality of meeting the author of your favourite book, as a child or as an adult, can be a magical encounter and at Beanstalk we know that this can be a revelation in encouraging children to read for pleasure. “By bringing together popular and inspiring authors and performers for children to meet and talk to, we can open more young minds to the magical world of books and stories, which is at the forefront of the work we do in schools across London and beyond,” explains Ginny Lunn, Chief Executive Officer at Beanstalk. “Special thanks goes to Frances Holland School and its supporters who have hosted and sponsored the event and fundraised to provide a book gift to every child who attended Beanstalk BookFest which really completes the whole experience for them,” adds Ginny. Lucy R Elphinstone, Head Teacher at Frances Holland School, said: “Many children have never experienced the joy of curling up with a book and learning of heroes and battles, of friendships and curses, of love and death. Beanstalk reaches out to those children who might not otherwise know the pleasure that reading can bring and gives them the precious gift of reading. At Francis Holland School, we are thrilled to support Beanstalk once more in hosting their second Beanstalk Children’s Bookfest and we hope that many dozens of children will discover the wonderful world of books.” Author Maz Evans said: "One of the simplest, yet most vital keys to literacy, is having time to read with a child. And yet, for any number of reasons, it can be hard to achieve. I am delighted to support Beanstalk's crucial work at Beanstalk BookFest this year and send my huge and grateful thanks to all their wonderful volunteers for the vital service they provide." Joe Bromley from the Really Big Pants Theatre said: “The highlight of what we do has been the children responding to our storytelling show by telling us how inspired they now are to write their own story, or by them sending us a story they've written afterwards, or by simply telling us they are encouraged to read more. It's the best feeling. Beanstalk's role in primary schools is absolutely crucial, and their motto of 'reading, growing, thriving' sums it up. We are so proud to be appearing at their second BookFest." Beanstalk is looking for more volunteers that would like to help children with their reading in schools and early years’ settings across London. For more information or to apply, please visit the website at www.beanstalkcharity.org.uk or call Beanstalk on 0845 450 0301.