YOUNG bookworms were treated to a visit from a children’s author and musician yesterday as part of the Swindon Youth Festival of Literature.

The festival, now in its fifth year, aims to encourage youngsters to discover the pleasures of reading and will see dozens of events taking place across the town.

Yesterday, Year 7 and 8 pupils from St Joseph’s Catholic College met Joe Craig, who spoke about his Jimmy Coates novels and signed copies of his books.

Jane Moss, manager of the college’s independent learning centre, said: “It’s very exciting to see so many students enthusiastic about reading and we’re sure the many events will bring books, and the world of literature, to life.”

The college will compete in the festival’s inter-school book quiz and comedy writing, work with local professional artist Fred Blunt, and have a visit from performance poet Ash Dickinson.

Jane said: “Last year, Ash Dickinson gave students simple phrases to begin their poems with, before getting them to perform on mic, making poetry leap from the page to the stage.

“It’s bound to be something just as interactive this year, finishing the week in lively fashion.

“Students will also be taking part in other events around the town, at other schools involved with the festival, and at the Wyvern Theatre and Central Library.”

The Two Steves will be the highlight of the festival at the Wyvern Theatre when they talk about the 70 books they have written.

Also giving talks to the students will be Liz Pichon and Marcus Sedgewick.

The festival was in doubt last year after Swindon Council cut its £65,000 grant to Swindon Ten, which previously ran it. But thanks to hard work from the schools’ headteachers they have managed to keep the festival alive.

Fiona Hardcastle, co-ordinator of the Swindon Youth Festival of Literature, said: “The headteachers strongly supported the literature festival and what it brings.”

Event timetable

  • November 14

Inter School Book Quiz at The Dorcan Academy – all schools
Fred Blunt – illustrator, at The Dorcan Academy and Lydiard Park Academy
Ash Dickinson – poet, at Nova Hreod School, Kingsdown School and Highworth Warneford School

  • November 15

Fastest Story Ever – all schools
Marcus Sedgwick – author, at Lydiard Park Academy
Karen McCombie – author, at Churchfields Academy (AM) Kingsdown School (PM)
Alexander Gordon Smith – author, at The Dorcan Academy (AM) and Highworth Warneford School (PM)
Cathy Brett – author and illustrator, at Swindon Academy
Annabel Pitcher – author, at The Commonweal School
Liz Pichon – author, primary event at The Dorcan Academy
Fred Blunt – illustrator, at Highworth Warneford School and Isambard Community School
Ash Dickinson – poet, at The Ridgeway School, The Commonweal School and Isambard Community School
Neil Arksey – author, at Kingsdown School

  • November 16

Liz Pichon – author, at Swindon Academy (AM) and Nova Hreod School (PM)
Fred Blunt – illustrator, at Churchfields Academy and Swindon Academy
Ash Dickinson – poet, at St Joseph’s Catholic College, Churchfields Academy and The Dorcan Academy

  • November 20

Judging of the illustration competition at Kingsdown School with judges Ken White and Fred Blunt

  • November 26 to 30

Illustration Competition Display, Central Library

  • November 29

Prize giving event with the mayor at Central Library – all schools invited