Heart of England News

Stratford Literary Festival Initiative

Over the next few months, Stratford Literary Festival will be engaging with young people across Stratford to get everyone reading, and loving words and books.

A special two-term project has just been launched with Thomas Jolyffe School thanks to a grant from Stratford Town Trust. Called Exploring Stories, it will involve the whole school doing just that. Events will include a visit by the award-winning author Steve Cole, who’ll be telling the children about his Astrosaur books, and then each year group will be exploring the themes of the books through creative writing, drama or art workshops. The workshops, delivered by Escape Arts, Play Box Theatre and Stratford storyteller Kate’s Storytree, will be especially aimed at encouraging reluctant readers. 
The Festival is also spearheading a ‘Hand On A Book’ project in the school, encouraging the children to pass on books to younger children they’ve enjoyed and grown out of. Next term plans include the school hosting a Bedtime Story Party, a visit by a published author and afternoon storytelling with Festival volunteers.
‘Reading books, and sharing bedtime stories which are such an important part of the day, are becoming rarer amongst young people, and 1 in 11 children in the UK doesn’t even own a book, so we’re really looking forward to filling the kids with enthusiasm for books and the endless world of the imagination they offer,’ says Annie Ashworth, Festival Director. ‘We are enormously grateful to the Town Trust for awarding the school a grant to make this happen.’
Matt Penn, Deputy Head Teacher at Thomas Jolyffe Primary School said “As a school we know that a love of reading - with all of the observational skill, creativity and imagination that this brings - will set children up to fully benefit from and give back to the world we live in. At Thomas Jolyffe Primary we strive to create the experiences that will shape this and are extremely grateful to the Festival and Town Trust for their support. This programme of events will have a vital impact on our children and be a memory for them to treasure forever”.
James McHugh, Grants Manager, at Stratford Town Trust said “Stratford Town Trust is delighted to support Stratford Literary Festival and Thomas Jolyffe Primary School with the Exploring Stories project. We know reading at a young age has a long-term positive impact on both children and their families. As well as supporting academic achievement, it also opens a door to creative thinking, curiosity, and improves health and wellbeing”. 
The Festival is also working on two projects with Stratford College. The first involves year two film students creating a series of short films about the Festival and the benefits of books and reading. The second is with second year photography students on an Instagram Project @stratfordinwords featuring images taken by the students of words that appear around town and uploaded to the social media platform.
Both projects are an exciting opportunity for the students to build up a body of work that they can use in professional portfolios. 
James Rose, Lecturer in Film at Stratford College said “The opportunity to work with a renowned and well-established Literary charity is a fantastic professional experience for the Year 2 Creative Media Production students: The students have already met Annie, the Festival’s Director, and are now incredibly enthused with lots of ideas that seek to convert the Festival’s core values and its charitable aims into short adverts. Many responded to Annie’s comments about the lack of parents reading to their children, the replacement of books with digital tablets as well as the work that the Festival undertakes in regional prisons. Meeting Annie really has opened their eyes to the power of reading, what the Festival does and how it can transform lives through storytelling!”
These outreach programmes run alongside the Festival’s Winter Weekend which runs from 1 - 3 November, and the main festival which takes place 9 - 17 May next year.
For further information: stratlitfest.co.uk