Fantastic Fun With Words - library activities in north Warwickshire
Fantastic Fun With Words was a truly fantastic nine days of intense activities in libraries in the north of Warwickshire, where we attracted people into all 14 libraries in the area through a variety of events.
The festival opened and closed with family fun days - at Nuneaton Library on Saturday 20th September and at Kingsbury Water Park on Sunday 28th . Both featured popular authors and entertainers such as Clive Cole, Claire Henley, Robert Ronsson and Ian Billings, and at the Water Park we were able to include one of our award-winning mobile libraries – Romeo – alongside actors from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, as well as Rhyme Time fun in a spacious marquee!
In between the fun days there were some 20 events in libraries, mainly for invited groups from local schools. Authors for these included Danya Miller, Claire Henley, Bali Rai, Martin Glynn and Paul Dowswell, covering a range of themes from life in Nelson’s navy to bullying. Manga artist Al Davison also worked with primary and secondary pupils in Kingsbury Library to bring the artwork behind popular graphic novels to life.
A readers’ evening at Nuneaton Library with Birmingham-based authors Helen Cross and RJ Ellory was a resounding success, and a writing workshop for adults at Coleshill Library with writer Chris Hoskins provided another forum for adults in this family-oriented week. Camp Hill’s new CHESS centre (youth centre and library) hosted a table football fun session with Goalden events and football author Tom Palmer – a fantastic opportunity for young people to enjoy football and the joy of reading at the same time!
The whole festival was made possible through a grant from Arts Council England, building on work in previous years at Compton Verney Art Gallery. This incorporated collaboration with Jonathan Davidson of Midland Creative Partnerships who booked the artists and arranged the main schedule of events. The funding also enabled library personnel to staff the fun days. The inclusion of the Festival in the 2008 National Year of Reading also enabled some joint working to reach target audiences for the Year, notably families, looked after children, boys and young men and the county target of narrowing the gap between north and south.
Feedback from all the events was positive. Year 7 pupils in one school wrote to Martin Glynn to say how much they had gained from his talk about his writing and also how he had overcome bullying. One wrote: "Your presentation made me feel like I can achieve what I want with enough effort. You brought a sense of energy and filled the room with positive vibes."
Many participants were not library members and some had never visited a library before, so this was a marvellous way to reach new audiences with the message that words are indeed both fun and fantastic.
Stella Thebridge, NYR Co-ordinator for Warwickshire