Exceptional offerings for book fans at this year's literary festival

Jacqueline Wilson will be a star guest at the Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival

Jacqueline Wilson will be a star guest at the Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival - Credit: James Jordan Photography

Reading was a huge part of my childhood and a big factor in making me who I am today.

I was the child that when sent to bed of an evening made sure to tuck a torch under my pillow so that with the inevitable ‘lights-out’, I could continue reading my book under the covers. A staunch Enid Blyton fan, I couldn’t get enough of the magical worlds she built at the top of a tree, or later of the intriguing mysteries she penned that only the Famous Five could solve. The first time I remember considering writing as something I could do myself was also as a youngster; I was lucky enough to live near the Grand Union Canal, where each summer the Book-Barge would drift across the home counties making stops in several towns. At each stop the barge would disgorge an author or illustrator onto the towpath who would then lead free workshops or storytelling sessions. The one that stands out the most was John Ryan of Captain Pugwash fame (which really ages me!). When I had my own family, I was very keen to give them the opportunity to experience something similar, so from a young age – and with thanks to a good friend who passed on the programme, I started taking my three to Bath Kids Literary Festival.

Luckily for Exmouth’s young people we don’t have to travel so far to see some world-class authors. This coming weekend sees the Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival return to real-live author events for both adults and children. This year’s children’s offering is really exceptional. There are events with Jacqueline Wilson (most well-known for the Tracey Beaker series), MG Leonard and Martin Brown (Horrible Histories) to name but a few, and fabulous sessions with amazing illustrators and picture book writers for the little ones- Katz Cowley illustrator of The Wonky Donkey being one that I’d love to see! In addition, there is a free (but ticketed) Bounce and Rhyme session for pre-schoolers this Friday 17th with Andy Cooper and Leigh Jackson who created Harry the Hippo. Over the festival weekend there will be free family events on The Green in Budleigh themed around Alice in Wonderland as well as the pop-up café and Waterstones bookshop selling books from the festival authors.

If you’ve never considered going to an event like this before, I would definitely recommend it. Studies have shown that hearing an author speak can inspire reading and creativity in young people which also has positive benefits for their educational development. If you’re looking for somewhere to start, illustrators are great at doing interactive sessions where often the audience are encouraged to get involved in creating characters and stories. Tickets for the author events are available via the www.budlitfest.org.uk website - there were a few still left at the time of going to press, so why not try something different this weekend and inspire the young readers in your family.

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