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Gruffalo and Stick Man author Julia Donaldson is new patron for Stratford Literary Festival

ONE of the greatest children’s writers of our time – think The Gruffalo, Stick Man, Zog and many, many more – has taken on a special role with Stratford Literary Festival.

Julia Donaldson has agreed to be patron of the festival’s charitable outreach work giving an extra focus to the work that goes on away from the star-studded events.

She said: ‘I have appeared at the festival several times and have been very impressed by the work they are doing outside of the twice-yearly book festival.

“I believe it is a charity really committed to supporting literacy in young people, with all the life benefits that brings, and I am very pleased to be supporting what they do.’

Children's author Julia Donaldson has agreed to be patron of Stratford Literary Festival's outreach work
Children's author Julia Donaldson has agreed to be patron of Stratford Literary Festival's outreach work

Over its 17 years, organisers have taken authors into schools across the Midlands and invited schools to festival events, reaching tens of thousands of children.

It now also runs longer literacy projects to inspire reluctant readers to discover a life-long love of reading through different mediums such as art and drama.

It also holds bedtime story parties at which parents and children share stories they have written together.

In a further strand to its outreach, the festival hosts three book group sessions each month, Books with Friends, particularly aimed at people who find themselves socially isolated.

Across the country, it takes workshops into prisons with children’s authors Hollie Hughes and Smriti Halls teaching male and female prisoners to write bedtime stories for their children.

Festival director Annie Ashworth said: ‘We firmly believe in the impact books and reading can have on people’s lives.

“Having Julia as patron of our outreach work, which is central to what we do as a charity, is an enormous boost to us and validation of our work. We are thrilled.’

The first of the main events for this year runs from 1st-5th May.

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