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Youngsters urged to ‘drop their smartphones and get reading’ for Swiss Cottage literary festival

Multi-award winning author Julia Golding will be bringing knights, dragons and ogres to Swiss Cottage Library Multi-award winning author Julia Golding will be bringing knights, dragons and ogres to Swiss Cottage Library

Tuesday, July 8, 2014
1:00 PM

Children have been urged by an award-winning author to drop their smartphones, take a break from staring at screens and be transported to a world of “knights, dragons and ogres” as a unique children’s literary festival gets under way.

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Julia Golding, author of more than 30 books, is inviting families to bring children to Swiss Cottage Library from July 12 to 13, where she will be encouraging young readers to embrace books by showcasing her recent fantasy trilogy, Young Knights of the Round Table.

The Pop Up Festival of Stories has an array of authors and artists bringing their books to life with games, interactive readings and music, with colourful sets and costumes designed by the Royal Opera House.

Organisers say at the heart of their festival is the belief that, by initiating these encounters with authors and their stories, they can “ignite imaginations, inspire future readers and writers, and build more literate communities”.

Ms Golding said: “We now live in a world of many competing forms of entertainment.

“Creating a space where literary worlds become a hands-on experience can prompt children to set off on their own reading adventures, taking a break from whatever screen experience is the current flavour of the month.

“I hope they get the message that the pictures in your head can be – and should be – so much better than even the best CGI. Research says that children who read for pleasure do so much better academically so it is really worth giving them encouragement now.

“There will also be plenty of refreshments available so it will be a lovely family outing.

“In my area, I have an excellent juggler and musician in my court of King Arthur, the theme of my Young Knights series.

“The visitors can also play a game to find out what sort of knight or lady they would be, then make and take away their own shield.

“Nothing like this was available when I was younger but I would’ve loved it. My experience of reading as a child was wonderful, though.

“Each book was like the wardrobe in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, transporting me to new places.”

Supported by the Ham&High, other highlights over the two days include a 1950s-era jazz bar with cabaret, an enormous mobile installation of an enchanted city and an exuberant fusion of African music and storytelling.

Dylan Calder, director of the festival, added: “Pop Up is like a travelling circus; think of a fairground with lots of sideshows, providing exciting opportunities for young people to encounter the diverse people who write, draw, tell and make stories. And it’s all completely free so that families from all walks of life can join us in celebrating the imagination.”

For more information about the festival, visit pop-up.org.uk.

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