Doncaster Storytelling Festival is back for a second year thanks to local literacy campaign, Doncaster Stories. The festival brings together Doncaster's cultural partners for a month-long celebration of children's literature, diversity and multilingualism in the run up to World Book Day.
Partners involved with delivering the festival (31 January - 3 March) include:
- Doncaster Cultural Education Partnership
- Royal Opera House
- Cast theatre
- Club Doncaster Foundation
- Doncaster Council/RWM Strategies
- Doncaster Libraries
- AFCL (Adult Family Community Learning) and more.
The festival launched on Monday 31 January, which also marked the start of National Storytelling Week, with an event celebrating Black British authors and illustrators. Local schools tuned in to a virtual event with three of the creatives behind Happy Here, an anthology that brings representation and inclusive stories into the classroom. Children got to ask questions to authors Joe Coelho and Clare Weze, and enjoyed a draw-a-long with illustrator Dorcas Magbadelo. Every school who took part were also sent a copy of Happy Here and those who missed it can catch up on YouTube.
Other flagship events include an exclusive dance workshop from the Royal Opera House inspired by The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland, a celebration of 25 years of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone along with a Miles of Magic reading challenge, and an author event with James Mayhew and Ian Eagleton exploring Nen and the Lonely Fisherman - a book that celebrates LGBTQ+ love, acceptance and faith with a gentle message about how to treat the oceans and each other.
Last year the festival reached thousands of local families with virtual events hosted during lock down. This year, there’s a mixture of in-person and online activities to inspire a generation of Doncaster children to fall in love with reading and build on their wider literacy skills; in 2019, only half of 11-year-olds on free school meals in Doncaster left school able to read well.
All of the events within the festival are free to take part in and events advertised for schools can be streamed by the public at a later date. Weekly schedules are being posted on the Doncaster Stories Facebook page and more information about the festival can be found on the Doncaster Stories website.
“It’s so exciting that we’ve got so many exclusive events with award-winning authors as part of the festival this year – Doncaster children are in for a treat! The festival is all about showing young people that literacy is for everyone regardless of their background and it also shows that literacy is fun and is includes everything from reading to performing.”Senior Project Officer, Phil Sheppard