Word Up! Schools Programme at Wimbledon BookFest

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Word Up! at Wimbledon BookFest

Every year the Festival enables over 10,000 school children from 80+ South London schools to take part in a variety of projects focused around literacy. These include author events, writing competitions & workshops, film making initiatives and volunteering opportunities.


Wimbledon BookFest believes in the power of reading to transform lives and in 2019 over 3,500 books were gifted to young people funded by the Festival. The Education Programme is supported through grants and school sponsorship and works closely with Lead Education Partner, University of Roehampton.


Education Projects for 2020

Plans will be announced for our 2020 programme later in the summer as a clearer picture of emergence from lockdown emerges. We are currently planning a mixed programmed of live and digital events supported by University of Roehampton.

Teachers can email the Festival's Education Manager Laura Byrne at education@wimbledonbookfest.org or Festival Director fiona.razvi@wimbledonbookfest.org for more information.

1. World Book Day 2020

We had planned to celebrate World Book Day on Wed 4 March with authors Sita Brachmachari, Karyn Parsons and Konnie Huq at New Wimbledon Theatre. Unfortunately this his event was cancelled due to developments with the coronavirus. 17 schools booked and 1,000 children booked to attend. All tickets wre refunded.


2. Author Events

Author events are run for primary and secondary schools as motivators to encourage literacy. These range from picture book authors and illustrators to storytellers, poets and novelists. Older students have visits from journalists, politicians and screenwriters and writing workshops.

The 2019 author programme included Malorie Blackman, Cressida Cowell, Simon Armitage, Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Tom Fletcher, Dermot O'Leary, Greg James & Chris Smith and Konnie Huq.

Previous authors include: Benjamin Zephaniah, Carol Ann Duffy, Sir John Major, George the Poet, Michael Rosen, David Baddiel, Jacqueline Wilson and Steve Backshall.

3. Gifted Books Initiative

Reading is regularly cited as one of the greatest contributory factors to social mobility. Every year over 2000 free books are given to children with a low socio-economic demographic and engagement in reading.

4. Young Writers' Competition

Wimbledon BookFest's annual competition attracts entries from 50+ local schools every year who are inspired to write creative stories and poems. The top entries are published as part of a collection of stories and poems to encourage young people's creativity. The theme for 2020 is 'The Secret' - entries closed 1 May.

Watch the video below about World Book Day and our Young Writers' Competition:

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5. Filmmakers

Through a partnership with educational film specialists Chocolate Films students attend workshops teaching filmmaking skills. Students are introduced to careers in the creative industries and taught how to tell stories through film. Films are then publically screened at the Festival. The Take Ten Project allows students to work with professional film makers to make documentary portraits of today's Londoner. In 2018 we introduced opportunities for students to learn how to operate cameras for video relay during our events.

6. Student Panel

Sixth formers from local schools make up a panel that meets regularly to develop the festival's events to attract and engage a younger audience. Events have included performance poetry, the future of journalism and the politics of gender, as well as an annual gig night hosted by Radio X's John Kennedy. This year, student panel member Deborah Ajayi interviewed Malorie Blackman before her event at New Wimbledon Theatre, watch below. Find out more about the Student Panel here.

7. Stewarding & Volunteering for 6th Formers

Wimbledon BookFest offers opportunities for 6th formers in local schools to steward at the festival. In 2020 we launched a new camera operating training scheme on-site at the festival where 6th formers and young people were invited to learn professional skills Find out more.

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