On 23 May we were very excited to announce a new partnership with Hay Festival. The opening day of the festival featured a special Summer Reading Challenge event attended by the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and 3,000 primary school children.
Bestselling children's authors Cressida Cowell, Jeremy Strong, Korky Paul, the Etherington Brothers, Katherine Rundell and Lauren Child were at the festival and spoke to children about The Summer Reading Challenge as well as signing books as part of the Hay Festival's Programme for Schools day - a free initiative for state primary and secondary schools which Hay funds via their education trust.
The Bookshop tent at the festival featured characters from the Creepy House 2013 Summer Reading Challenge theme. HRH the Prince of Wales visited the bookshop to meet some of our members of staff, and in the company of the Duchess of Cornwall, there was a speech acknowledging the tremendous support authors give to the Summer Reading Challenge.
Popular children's authors Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Chris Riddell, Liz Pichon, Charlie Higson and Cressida Cowell along with footballer Frank Lampard (who has just written his first book for children), have all agreed to contribute an exclusive piece for the Summer Reading Challenge's Finish the Story, Share the Glory competition which will take place during the school summer holidays.
A host of other authors including Michael Rosen, Malorie Blackman and members of the Children's Writers and Illustrators Group will also promote the Challenge widely through school visits, blogging and tweeting on 13 July - the official launch date of the Summer Reading Challenge.
Cressida Cowell said: "It's wonderful that the Hay Festival, the royal family and my fellow authors are helping to profile this most powerful of reading programmes for children. The Summer Reading Challenge's simple magic can help turn children into library users for life and its sheer fun inspires them to keep reading all summer long".
Following the Summer Reading Challenge event The Reading Agency sponsored Hay Festival annual Library Lecture was delivered by Sir Quentin Blake. The lecture was made available for live streaming to libraries. Libraries are also being encouraged to get involved with the Hay Festival by creating displays of books written by authors appearing at Hay, and sharing links with the Hay website and audio library.
The events on 23 May mark the start of a long-term partnership between us and Hay Festival, and sees us joining forces to inspire people of all ages to read. We are helping spread the power of the Hay Festival through libraries, to ensure as many people as possible benefit from linked book recommendations and author events.
Miranda McKearney said: "Our new Hay Festival partners share our passion for spreading reading, and helping the public have life changing encounters with authors. We're delighted to be working with Hay to devise new ways to bring people powerful new reading opportunities, and highlight the vital role of libraries in every community"
Peter Florence, Director and Co-Founder of the Hay Festival said: "My father was a librarian in Cape Town. The festival exists because of libraries. We're delighted to be extending the work we do with our local libraries in Powys and Hereford and working with The Reading Agency - the gold standard in books promotion. They're thrilling partners. It's going to be a blast."
Libraries can get involved with Hay Festival and reading groups can find inspiration on new titles by authors appearing at Hay in our Spotlight on Hay features on readinggroups.org.
Head to twitter to see some pictures from the day. Find out more about the Summer Reading Challenge and join us on facebook for sneak previews of some of the characters.