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Inspiring children through meeting authors at Fourbears Fest

Between Friday 17th- Sunday 19th May ten brilliant children’s authors will be visiting two venues in Caversham to talk about their latest books. Children will be able to watch a cartoonist create a comic character, listen to poets shouting and singing their poetry to life, discover a whole load of fascinating facts about science and invention, and step into the magical and mysterious worlds of some fantastic stories. These experiences are guaranteed to entertain and inspire young readers of 5-12 but will also be of interest to any adults (teachers, parents, librarians etc.) with children they want to encourage to read and write. Reading Children’s Book Group is thrilled to be partnering with Fourbears Books to organise the children’s programme for this, the inaugural Fourbears Fest. 


As a local branch of the Federation of Children’s Book Groups (FCBG), one of the main aims of the group is to bring children and books together. Thanks to the generous support of Alex Forbes, for the last three years we have been able to offer regular book group meetings for 5-8s and 9-11s based in the book shop. These are free events, open to all and bookable via the bookshop website. Family members can also participate in testing books for the FCBG Children’s Book Award throughout the year and receive monthly newsletters which include local book-based information and offers from children’s publishers. Occasionally we invite one of our local authors to read from and talk about a new book at one of the regular sessions. The impact of meeting and hearing a real-life author should never be underestimated - as well as always being fun and often informative, it can also inspire children to get reading and writing themselves.  


Fourbears Fest will not only be a celebration of the work of many of our wonderful local authors but it will also be an introduction to some exciting new writers to our local community of children and adults alike. And there is something for everyone to choose from. 


The first event taking place in the shop on the afternoon of Friday 17th May featuring professional storyteller Margaret Bateson-Hill is ideal for the whole family. Margaret has worked with us in Reading many times before - helping us to celebrate the group’s tenth anniversary (almost ten years ago now!), storytelling in local libraries and visiting schools. Her stories often draw from different cultures, featuring their language, calligraphy and crafts. The exciting experience of hearing a story well-told is definitely not to be missed! 


Our second day of events is taking place in Caversham Baptist Church to ensure that we have plenty of seats available - but some sessions are already selling fast so don’t delay in buying your tickets! Due to the growing popularity of comics and graphic novels, the interest in Neill Cameron’s workshop on Saturday comes as no surprise. Based in Oxford, he runs a monthly Comic Club at the Story Museum and regularly contributes to The Phoenix comic, while writing and illustrating his own graphic novels. Neill’s session will get young readers thinking about a completely different way of telling stories and is bound to inspire them to get creative themselves. 


We’re also looking forward to welcoming three incredibly popular local authors on Saturday - animal story writer Holly Webb, poet & author A F Harrold and picture book creator Fiona Barker - all of whom have spoken or performed at events in Reading before. Fourbears Fest provides a great opportunity for young fans to catch up with their favourites and meet new authors, and to buy new books and have them signed. Enjoying meeting authors and owning books is all part of becoming an established reader and there will be a pop-up shop in the church designed to feed our young audience’s appetite for books. 


The final speaker on Saturday is E L Norry who will be hot-footing to Reading from another event earlier the same day. We were lucky enough to hear Emma talking about the first book in the Fablehouse series at the FCBG conference in 2023. Inspired by her own childhood experiences in care, this is an atmospheric historical fantasy linked to the Arthurian legends. Join us to find out about the recently-published Heart of Fire, which continues the children’s quest to find their power within. 


On Sunday, all of the events will be taking place in Fourbears Book Shop, offering a mixed bag of fantastic bookish experiences, starting with poetry, music & mayhem for younger children from James Carter. This will be followed by a session about innovators in science and technology from nonfiction author Frances Durkin. We know that many young readers are fascinated by facts & read information books for pleasure. Frances also writes graphic novels based in different periods of ancient history. The day will finish with an afternoon of mystery. This is such a popular genre with young readers at the moment. There is a murder mystery waiting to be solved in Michelle Harrison’s latest magical story Twice Upon a Time which features twin sisters with time-bending powers. And for the grand finale, Jo Clarke, the author of the entertaining Travelling School Mysteries, will be leading her popular writers’ workshop for young would-be authors. 


Which sessions will you be bringing your children to? We are looking forward to seeing you there! 



You can follow Reading Children’s Book Group on Facebook and Twitter @GRRChris or contact us on grr.reading@ntlworld if you would like further information about the group. 

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