Rug Rat Readers

With the help of children's laureate Julia Donaldson, the book festival aim to let "imaginations run wild": Ruth Dawkins picks the highlights

feature (edinburgh) | Read in About 3 minutes
Published 27 Jul 2011
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The lovely people at the Edinburgh Book Festival have laid on an extensive programme of events for children – some of which are even free! Storytime is for all ages—although 3-10-year-olds will probably get the most out of it—and storytellers include Ron Fairweather, who likes to get everyone involved in a singalong, Fergus McNicol, who tells dark but funny tales of Auld Reekie, and Clare McNicol, who shares stories of seal people, wee folk and giants. Times and storytellers change daily, with free tickets available from the Box Office on the day – check the programme for further details.

Bookbugs caters for younger kids (0-3 years), and is run by Edinburgh City Libraries. Parents and children are encouraged to take part in rhymes and songs both traditional and new. Dates and times vary, and free tickets can be booked in advance – again, check programme for further details.

Newly appointed Children’s Laureate Julia Donaldson is the Book Festival’s Guest Selector for its kids programme, working alongside illustrator in residence Nick Sharratt. Most of the events that Donaldson is hosting are in the RBS Main Theatre so, although early booking is recommended, you do stand some chance of grabbing a seat. The opening event is Dragons and Fairies, which is best suited to 5-9-year-olds and features discussion and interaction with her recent picture books, Freddie and the Fairy, The Highway Rat, and Zog. Drawing Julia (Sunday August 21) is an interactive event with three of her illustrators—David Roberts, Axel Scheffler and Nick Sharratt—that aims to provide an insight into the way words and pictures work together. Quirks of the Teenage Mind (Wednesday August 24) is an event for 12-15-year-olds that sees her discussing mental and emotional issues with authors Kate de Goldi and Ruth Eastham.

There is no shortage of other big names at the Children’s Book Festival, which also boasts Alexander McCall Smith, Arlene Phillips and Neil Gaiman to name just a few. But for something a little out of the ordinary you’d be well placed to check out the short programme of events focused on Finnish writing. There is Stories from Finland (Wednesday 17 August), featuring tales of fjords and forests (in English) with accompanying music. The following day, three of Finland’s leading contemporary novelists offer fascinating insight into their work, influences, and language in Beyond The Moomins (Thursday 18 August). While that event is aimed at families with children aged seven and over it is, conveniently, repeated the next day (Friday 19 August) for an older audience.