London’s largest children's book festival is leading the way in literature education in the midst of the UK’s third lockdown.

With schools closed, bookshops shelved and live festivals stopped in their tracks, the volunteers of the Barnes Children’s Literature Festival, based in Barnes, South-West London, have come together to keep up the love of children’s literature during lockdown.

Although their in-person 2020 programme was moved online for its sixth year, forty thousand people from forty-six countries tuned in to watch their twenty-nine online events that boasted book legends like Lauren Child, Chris Riddell and Axel Sheffler as well as current Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell, Paralympian Ade Adepitan and actor Stanley Tucci.

On their YouTube channel, the festival has provided hours of content for KS1 and KS2 including talks and workshops recorded from their 2020 programme.

Barnes is London's largest dedicated children's books event. 'We are very proud of the fact that unlike Hay, or the Edinburgh Book Festivals, for example, Barnes is the only national literature festival organised entirely by volunteers,’ said Festival director Amanda Brettargh.

For younger readers, original readings of classic picture books are uploaded once a week.

These include modern tales by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, and retro classics by Richard Scarry.

‘We're very proud of the fact that Barnes is organised by families for families and we have faced the same challenges they have over the past year, juggling working from home with caring for little ones, as well as home schooling, often with more than one child of different ages. They've done such a wonderful job of staying at home that we wanted to support them by bringing the best of Barnes to them for free. Families will be able to enjoy all their favourite authors together at home as well as a few new events we're bringing to the kitchen table!' 

As parents become more concerned about their children’s education - with SATS, GCSEs and A-Levels cancelled across the UK - it has become vital to provide these resources when some schools can’t. 

According to the National Literacy Trust, children’s enjoyment of reading has increased by 8.1% over lockdown, having reached a fifteen year low beforehand. 59.3% of children said that reading ‘[made] them feel better’.

To access all that the Barnes Children's Literature Festival has to offer, check out their YouTube channel here: