THOUSANDS of children from across York took part in the city's first ever Schools Reading Festival.

The festival brought together youngsters from primary and secondary schools across the city to celebrate all things reading.

The week started with more than 1,400 pupils taking part in two author events at York Barbican.

All Saints RC, Archbishop Holgate CE and Fulford schools were all in attendance to watch CILIP Carnegie winning author Anthony McGowan in the morning who provided a gritty and engaging talk for the students, which included a reading of his novel ‘Rook’, followed by a question and answer session with the students.

In the afternoon Primary Schools were brought together for a highly amusing and energetic talk, showing Anthony McGowan’s versatility and fun sense of humour. Clifton Green, St George’s RC, Hobmoor Primary, Lord Deramore’s, Knavesmire, Scarcroft, Wigginton and St Oswald’s CE Primary schools were all in attendance and in great spirits, cheering their favourite authors and asking lots of interested questions.

The week was co-ordinated by Sally Lynam, assistant head at All Saints, supported by Frankie Swales of Clifton Green Primary School.

Sally said: "Reading isn’t about passing tests and generating scores, it’s about being able to connect with others beyond our own existence, developing empathy, gaining an insight into different worlds, real or imagined.

"We know that Covid adversely affected many students’ engagement with reading and that reading is suffering a decline in general, so we were particularly keen to encourage those students more reluctant to read.

"Tony McGowan and Tom Palmer were great advocates for these students. It was truly wonderful to bring schools and pupils of all ages together for the week, and we hope to build on this on the future."

An additional author event on Wednesday saw schools once more celebrating reading together, this time with student favourite Tom Palmer who is known for his ability to engage youngsters, often those reluctant to engage in reading, to find a love of books. His football academy series have a huge following, but it’s his historical fiction that has attracted rave reviews and award nominations.

He spoke to the 600 students about his latest novel ‘Resist’ and the writing process. All Saints’, Millthorpe, Manor, York High, Clifton Green Primary, Poppleton Road, Wigginton and Knavesmire Primary benefited from Palmer’s experience and passion for all things writing.

Frankie Swales said: "On Monday, we launched the week with a Book Brunch where we invited parents in to share books with their children. We then had a whole school launch assembly and had a teachers vs children reading quiz. 

"We also ran a book cover competition and the winners from each key stage received a £10 voucher for the Blue House Book Shop."

York Press: Book Week at Clifton Green School in YorkBook Week at Clifton Green School in York

As well as these two events, students across the city engaged in reading and writing activities galore. Primary schools received talks from Jason Beresford, Elys Dolan, Catherine Jacobs and Sophie Kirtley.

Fulford enjoyed a visit from author Dan Smith with local primaries and All Saints RC hosted a series of talks and workshops from Dan Thomas, chief UK business correspondent from the Financial Times, screenwriter Emma Kilcoyne, New York Times Bestseller Rosie Walsh, and authors Tim Murgatroyd, L.G.Jenkins and Tony Bower. They even had their very own student, and former Joseph Rowntree student, Kiera Forde, who has published two books at just 18, to speak to their students. Fulford completed a Read for Refugees week, where students read every morning to raise funds for ‘York Action refugees’. Sixth formers did a book sale for Amnesty International and they did a community read encouraging families to read together.

York Press:  A Reading Breakfast event at All Saints RC School A Reading Breakfast event at All Saints RC School