Barnes Children's Literature Festival returns in person :: NEWS

Barnes Children's Literature Festival returns in person

10 May 2021 Share

Opened by bestselling children's authors Julia Donaldson and Sir Michael Morpurgo

The UK's number one bestselling children's authors, Julia Donaldson and Sir Michael Morpurgo, will herald the hugely welcome return to live literary festivals when they open the Barnes Children's Literature Festival on Saturday 26th June, the first festival to return in real life since the lockdowns.

London's largest children's books event will return as planned with their Primary Schools Programme from Thursday 17th to Friday 25th June, followed by their public weekend on Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th June boasting a line up 'even better than ever' according to the organisers. 

The queen of picture books, along with her husband Malcolm, will perform two shows with songs, dancing and storytelling from her best known books including The Gruffalo. Julia will sign copies of all her books after her events. Sir Michael Morpurgo returns to Barnes to talk about his new book, A Song of Gladness, which was inspired by his time living in lockdown.  

These two household names will lead another stellar line up of festival fun with events from former UK Children's Laureates Dame Jaqueline Wilson and Lauren Child, the country's favourite comedian Julian Clary with David Roberts and Carnegie Medallist David Almond.  

Children's literature legend Helen Oxenbury will make a rare festival appearance and has designed this year's Festival branding, inspired by one of her dear friends, Judith Kerr's most famous creations, The Tiger Who Came To Tea, and her own classic, We're Going on a Bear Hunt

Master storyteller and SLA Patron Frank Cottrell-Boyce will also join the children's books editor of The Sunday Times, Nicolette Jones, for a very special event to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Judith's When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit.

Other confirmed authors over the public weekend include the middle grade marvels Ross Welford, Maz Evans, Michelle Harrison, Thomas Taylor and Sharna Jackson and some of the best known names from picture books including Guinness World Record holder Rob BiddulphSarah McIntyre & Philip Reeve, Karl Newson, and Steven Lenton who made a marathon effort to keep the kids entertained while the schools were closed.  

Festival Director Amanda Brettargh says Barnes is ready to 'celebrate the end of the era of literature festivals in living rooms and get back out there and do what we do best.' She said the Festival had adapted their programme, and adjusted the capacity and layout of each venue, with all measures in place to make the experience as safe as possible. 'We've got plenty of room to move here in Barnes and we're confident we can deliver the maximum amount of book fun and keep families, authors, illustrators, performers and volunteers safe.'

The Festival opens on Tuesday 22nd June, with its Primary Schools Programme, four days of specially curated, curriculum linked sessions, provided free to pupils in all state maintained schools in London. For almost all of these children this is their first experience of live literature; the majority are eligible for free school meals and many do not own a book.  

Following the complete closure of the Hammersmith Bridge, the Festival will also provide two additional days of special sessions for schools on the north side of the Thames on Thursday 17th and Friday 18th June with capacity for a further 3,000 children.   

Global pandemics permitting, the full programme will be announced before tickets go on sale on 22nd May. Visit for more information.