Children’s Literature Festival: Encouraging kids to read more

Welsh language writers will join the Cardiff Children’s Literature Festival to nurture the next generation of readers and writers.

More than a quarter of children and young people say they are enjoying reading more during lockdown.

Local writers are committed to inspiring kids’ love in literature at Cardiff Children’s Literature Festival this weekend, where kids can meet their favourite author.

At least three Welsh-language authors will expert among, to share their writing experience, the importance of storytelling and answer children’s questions.

“Literature gives so much; it’s a ticket to another country, it’s a rocket to another planet, it’s a new friend, it’s an old memory,” said Casia Wiliam, children’s poet laureate for 2017 to 2019.

“It shows children what imagination can do, and feeds their imagination too.”

Compared to 30 to 40 years ago, there is a lot more choice in Welsh language books available for children now.

As one of those Welsh-language authors, Casia hopes the festival can inspire children to find a new book to read and remind them of the pure, simple pleasure of books and stories.

“Most people who love to read have fallen in love with books during their childhood,” said Casia.

“If we give children the opportunity to hear stories, to read stories and to tell their own stories we are nurturing the next generation of readers and writers.”

Meleri Wyn James is a Welsh writer, who has been writing books for children and adults for 25 years, said: “I started writing stories when I was a young child – and I haven’t stopped. The imagination is a thing of wonder.”

Children are the ones who will go on to become the writers, leaders, and influential thinkers of the future, so what they read is incredibly important, according to Helen Rutter, another author who will join this festival.

“It is crucial to catch children’s interest when they are young, so they read as they go, learn and gain experiences as they grow,” said Meleri. “Books also help us with ways to think about our emotions, we can feel sad, scared, excited, happy as we read about the characters’ journey.”

Meleri once brought her book Na, Nel! to Tregaron Junior School. The book is about a girl who lives in Wales, and who loves Wales, they are also inclusive and diverse. (Image: Meleri Wyn James)

Casia suggests that reading in both Welsh and English is a good thing, but writers can help children read as well in Welsh as they do in English by creating more series in Welsh. “A series of stories that take readers on a longer adventure, rather than a lot of stand-alone books.”

“Having an awareness that you are influencing a developing mind is important for writers of children’s literature,” said Helen.

“Personally, I want to tell stories that have the potential to shape those minds in a positive way – by telling stories that don’t shy away from difficult topics but that ultimately offer hope.”

This year’s Cardiff Children’s Literature Festival is free and virtual. More information about it can be found on the official website.