A fantastic line-up of authors taking part in the first of its kind free Children’s Literary Festival held at the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea during the weekend of 7-8 October has been announced.
More than thirty renowned children’s authors from Wales and across the UK will be participating in this free event of storytelling, magic, music and drama with sessions held in both English and Welsh.
Author names include Hannah Gold, winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2022 for Last Bear, prolific writer and winner of this year’s Carnegie Medal, Manon Steffan Ros, Alex Wharton, 2023-2025 Children’s Laureate Wales, Nia Morais Bardd Plant Cymru 2023-25, multiple award-winner and patron of the Children’s Bookshow Owen Sheers and multiple-winner of the Literature Wales Book of the Year award Caryl Lewis.
Added to the list of award-winning and prolific children’s authors are Liz Hyder, Catherine Fisher, Casia Wiliam, Rebecca F.John, Ivor Baddiel, Robin Bennett, Lee Newbery, Lesley Parr, Stephanie Burgis, E.L. Norry, Helen and Thomas Docherty and many more.
The Children’s Literature festival is organised by Swansea University’s Cultural Institute and DylanED programme in partnership with Save the Children Cymru, the Rhys Davies Trust, Storyopolis, Cover to Cover and Austin Bailey Foundation.
The aim of this free event is to enable children of all ages to access the wonderful world of words so that they can reach their full potential. For some children this is not always possible, especially with nearly 1 in 4 children currently living in poverty in Wales. Save the Children, Swansea University’s DylanEd programme and Storyopolis have a range of innovative educational programmes in Swansea and South Wales which focus on reducing inequality and improving the outcomes for all children.
Dr Elaine Canning, Head of Swansea University's Cultural Institute said: “We're thrilled to have such a fantastic line-up of children's authors coming to Swansea this October. There will be plenty of events to choose from as well as opportunities to get involved in crafts, drawing, quizzes, storymaking and storytelling throughout the two days. We look forward to welcoming everyone to what promises to be a really fun and exciting weekend of words, creativity and imagination.”
To ensure that children from all corners of Swansea and the surrounding areas will be able to attend the two-day free festival, members of the Swansea Save the Children branch arranged a fundraising lunch at Norton House Hotel which raised over £2,300. The money will be used to arrange transport for children and their families living in areas of high deprivation in Swansea.
The lunch was also a celebration of the 65th anniversary of the Swansea Save the Children branch, one of the charity’s largest branches in the UK which has raised well over a million pounds since it started in 1958, making a difference to children living in Swansea and around the world.
Dr Pam Muirhead, a longstanding member of the branch for nearly half a century and also the brainchild behind Save the Children’s annual flagship fundraiser Christmas Jumper Day recalls some of the projects which benefited children directly in Swansea.
“Over the years we’ve organised and funded children’s parties held in various communities and also worked with Gypsy and Traveller families in supplying educational resources to the children. Other highlights include a concert at the Brangwyn Hall in 1984 in the presence of HRH Princess Anne, President of Save the Children which raised £47,000 for the Ethiopian famine; and when Mumbles-born Hollywood actress Catherine Zeta Jones took part in the ‘Skip Lunch Campaign’ with Welsh international rugby player Bleddyn Bowen.
“As part of our 50th anniversary we held a Ball in the Liberty Stadium and raised over £20,000 towards building a new school in the rural township of Kingsville in Liberia, helping children there achieve their dreams.”
Pre-pandemic the branch held a fundraising children’s literary luncheon and writing competition and have been integral in co-organising the Children’s Literature festival.
“Our aim, in partnership with Swansea University’s Cultural Institute and other local partners in organising this first of its kind Children’s Literature festival, is to encourage local children to continue discovering the wonderful world of words especially for those families finding it hard to attend such events due to the rising costs of transport and cost of living crisis.”
Melanie Simmonds, head of Save the Children Cymru added: “Throughout the summer we’ve heard from families who are struggling to give their children the summer they would like, with the costs of days out, food and transport all huge barriers to creating important childhood moments. We are also very concerned about the impossible choices families will have to make this coming winter which will leave many children cold and hungry, making it even more difficult for them to concentrate and learn at school.
“This Children’s Literature Festival is part of a brilliant collaborative project, that will give children and their families a chance to take part in some fun activity sessions and meet fantastic authors. We’re extremely grateful to all involved for their hard work in making this happen.”
Tickets for the event and author sessions will be available from 4 September.