17 October 2018 

Children’s author and illustrator and Beanstalk supporter Steve Antony visited a primary school in his hometown of Swindon this week to kick off Beanstalk BookFest 2018 which runs over the next few weeks.  

Beanstalk BookFest is a free literacy festival organised by Beanstalk. Each year the charity exclusively invites schools it works with to take part in inspiring and interactive workshops, which are generously supported by authors and illustrators who give their time to spread a love of books and reading. 

This year, for the first time, Beanstalk BookFest came to East Wichel Primary School in Swindon thanks to the fantastic Steve Antony - writer and illustrator of much-loved picture books including 'The Queen’s Hat' and the 'Mr Panda' series. 

Steve kicked off with a whole-school assembly reading his book, ‘Please Mr Panda’, explaining how he developed the concept. He then did a rendition of a book he illustrated; ‘When I grow up’ by Tim Minchin, which he sang, much to the appreciation of the children! Steve also talked about what life was like for him growing up and how he sometimes struggled to find books he enjoyed because he found reading difficult.  His message to the children was don’t let a challenge hold you back from doing the things you love. This was followed by a storytelling workshop with a class of Year Four children, including three who currently read with a Beanstalk reading helper. 

Karen Gregory, the local Beanstalk coordinator in Swindon, was at the event:

“The whole class were so creative and enthusiastic as Steve guided them through exercises to come up with their own stories. By the end of the workshop, the class had a concept, a front cover and a blurb to develop further. The class teacher commented on how engaged all the children were – we could feel the room buzzing. Steve also had a chat with the three Beanstalk children, supported by our fantastic volunteers, about the books and activities they enjoy. It really was such an inspiring morning and really captured the essence of Beanstalk BookFest.” 

Steve Antony said:

“I was once a reluctant reader, so I know all too well how reading can truly build bridges, open doors and instil confidence. The Beanstalk staff and volunteers are making such a positive impact to the lives of so many children, and I’m delighted that they’ve branched out to my hometown, Swindon. Getting to know the team really has been great. 

Beanstalk BookFest is a special event which has only been able to happen nationally for the first time this year thanks to the authors and illustrators who are giving their time to help spread a love of reading through these inspirational workshops. At last year's Beanstalk BookFest approximately 300 school children were given the opportunity to take part just in London. This year Beanstalk expects to more than double that number with events across the country including Swindon, Northampton, London and Norfolk. 

Find out more about all the events happening as part of Beanstalk BookFest 2018.

Find out more about Beanstalk author supporter Steve Antony