Those who like a glimmer of hope with their gloom now and again should consider the Franschhoek Literary Festival Schools Week and Library Fund. I do.
By Lesley Beake:
Being invited to speak at schools in the schools week that precedes the big festival is an honour and a privilege. The aim – and one that is amply fulfilled – is to have an author or an illustrator in every classroom in the valley. That means that every child (and young person still at school) has the chance to engage with, question, observe, shrewdly assess and evaluate someone who makes books happen. They also have the opportunity to inwardly comment (and possibly later discuss) the style, or lack of, the presenters, their shoes, hairstyles and whether or not their jokes are funny. It’s a pretty exciting challenge.
That this is good for the audience is beyond question. They are also exposed to a whole bag of books from the creator’s own to their particular favourites, books that may not have crossed the desks – or more importantly the minds – of many of the young readers before.
Something that is not so much talked about is how good all this is for the authors and illustrators. In a time when publishing is stewing in its own juices and facing multiple challenges and difficulties, book creators can all to easily wash up on the shores of depression. Going to Franschhoek is like a being on a life raft of enthusiasm and ideas. For that, we thank the organisers, supporters – and those who thought up this marvellous idea in the first place.
Children’s Book Network was there, in the person of Lesley Beake, who spoke to six groups of children – all of them different, all of them fascinating – ranging from Grade One to Grade Seven. It was marvellous!
Events in schools will continue until Friday 13th May. Over 50 authors and illustrators will confront over 5000 young readers and encourage them to do just a bit more of it, for their own good - and because reading is great!
For more information, please go to: