Exciting times for Children’s BookFest Chichester
It all comes at an exciting time, she says.
“We had such a successful year in 2021 and are in the process of producing our exciting new programme for 2022 with even more authors as well as schools, reaching out to Bognor as well as many outlying areas in Chichester.
“BookFest provides children in primary schools with the experience of having authors reading to them at school whilst taking home a dedicated, signed book from that author and we also provide hundreds of books for food banks, thereby reaching out to many children who have little experience of having their own book and/or of having books read to them.”
Rachel added: “I became involved because my brother Nick runs the Pallant House Gallery book shop.
“He runs it with his wife Caroline who is a good friend of Elaine Bentley who is part of our fundraising team at BookFest.
“Elaine was popping around to my brother’s house and was chatting about the vacancy that had popped up for festival director and Caroline said ‘Well, my sister-in-law has a background in teaching and education and administration.’
“I went for an interview and I’m very fortunate to have got the job.”
And it is a job all the more important post pandemic: “It seems that prior to the pandemic the reading levels of children, particularly disadvantaged children, were quite poor especially in the West Sussex area.
“And it seems that through the pandemic those levels have dropped again. In 2019 and 2020 it was one in eleven children did not attain a certain level and it has dipped since then. I hope that BookFest will really help those children and really engage them with literature and reading.
“So many children don’t even have a book at home so it is wonderful for them to be able to take a book home which has been signed by the author.”
This year’s dates are October 4-6 and already there are 12 schools signed up: “We are hoping there will be more and we are spreading our net slightly to Bognor. We are hoping to get two schools in Bognor.
“I have already 25 authors so it just depends on how many authors and how many schools I can get but it would be wonderful if we had 20 schools.
“A lot depends on the fund-raising and we have had fund-raising events. It is quite a challenge.
“We have to buy the books every year. Last year it was 4,000 books and it could be as many as 6,000 books this year.”
The team are already working with the cathedral which has agreed to let them use the premises for a fund-raising interview, a celebrity interviewing another celebrity in aid of BookFest, a ticketed event.
Rachel is confident of a happy festival ahead: “It is all really exciting. It’s a wonderful charity to be involved with and it certainly helps that I have got an education background.
“I was a teacher in London. I am a Montessori teacher by training and I became a head teacher in London in a couple of places.”
Rachel has now moved back to Felpham where she grew up
More details about Children’s BookFest Chichester on www.childrensbookfest.com.
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