Children's book festival turns page after lockdown to open in east London

Two days of book readings to delight children at Genisis cinema on June 17 and 18.

Two days of book readings to delight children at Genesis cinema on June 17 and 18. - Credit: Barnes Festival

A children's book festival is coming to east London for the first time after a turbulent year of pandemic restrictions. 

Free events are planned for primary schools at Genesis Cinema in Mile End Road on June 17 and 18 as part of the 10-day Barnes Children's Literature Festival. 

Some best-known children's authors are taking part, including British Book Awards winners MG Leonard and Sam Sedgman, Supertato authors Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet and TV’s Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq. 

“We’re inviting all primary state schools to join us,” organiser of Barnes Children's Literature Festival, Amanda Brettargh, explained. “These events are free for pupils and teachers in the area thanks to the Arts Council who’ve given us the funds.” 

The festival began with a few parents at a school at Barnes in west London holding an end-of-term reading event.

It soon grew into an annual attraction with families turning up from other parts of London — until Hammersmith Bridge was closed last year over structural problems and lockdown came into force.

So now they've taken the show on the road and are coming to east London, but with reduced capacity so schools can be seated in their "bubbles" with a safe distance from others.

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Five schools have already signed up so far, Elizabeth Selby Infants and Virginia Primary in Bethnal Green, St Anne's Primary and Thomas Buxton Primary in Spitalfields and Marion Richardson Primary in Stepney.

The full programme and bookings details are now online.