AFTER another jam-packed festival week of celebrating all things on the printed page, the organisers of the Swindon Youth Festival of Literature have seen visits to their libraries soar.

Last week saw schools across the town come together for the ninth annual festival, bringing in some top names from the literary world to get youngsters excited about reading once again.

And it seems to have paid off - with one author praising one school in particular. Author Anthony McGowan said following his visit to Kingsdown: “I’ve always had a great time visiting schools in Swindon, but Kingsdown is special. The pupils are wonderfully engaged – full of energy and ideas, and the staff really joined in with the fun. It’s absolutely vital for any writer to connect with his or readers, and I left Kingsdown proud to be part of their world.”

The festival was launched by children's laureate and prolific writer and illustrator Chris Riddell, and welcomed in a headline reading at The Wyvern Theatre from Geek Girl author Holly Smale.

Students were treated to daily readings and workshops from David Gatward, Bali Rai, Steve Cole, Rob Lloyd-Jones, Chris Riddell, Dave Cousins, Mark Lowery, Stan Cullimore, Anthony McGowan, The 2 Steves, Chris Priestley and Joffre White.

Festival co-ordinator Fiona Hardcastle said: "The Literature Festival has been another inspiring week across all the Swindon schools to get our students reading. The feedback so far has been so positive from across the schools with an immediate demand in our school libraries for our students to borrow books from the fantastic authors they have seen.

"School libraries are so important in promoting reading for pleasure, this unique project reinforces that aim. The Children’s Laureate, Chris Riddell and “Geek Girl” author Holly Smale were a real highlight to our week. To have 9000 students involved throughout the week and motivated to read made it a huge success."

Stella Rogers, Isambard's learning resources centre manager, added: "Last week was full-on, fast paced and fun. We have always set the bar high with this festival and it is testament to the hard work of all our school librarians that we have been able to achieve such acclaimed success. We have put Swindon on the map as the only town or city in the country whose secondary schools collaborate in this way.

"When the likes of Chris Riddell and Holly Smale are happy to be on the bill you know that we have something truly special here. More importantly we have witnessed an enthusiasm and energy amongst our students as books come to life in the hands of just some of the talented authors whose novels line our library shelves."