More than 3,000 Leicester schoolchildren headed to Welford Road for Author Week this week.
Organised by city-wide reading project Whatever It Takes, the event is made up of a series of workshops, presentations and activities for pupils from around Leicester, and aims to promote and improve literacy skills.
Children’s authors Paul Cookson, Sarah McIntyre and Steve Skidmore were among the names hosting interactive sessions for children in the Premiership Suite within the Holland & Barrett Stand.
Cookson, best known for his poetry books ‘The Truth About Teachers’ and ‘Disgusting Poems’, said: “I’ve been doing this for nearly 30 years now, and I love the fact that you’re getting the kids involved and breaking down their barriers to poetry.
“Half the kids aren’t sure whether they’re going to like it or not, and by the end of it they’re laughing and joining in.”Paul Cookson
Cookson is poet in residence for the National Football Museum in Manchester, and explained that sport can make a great starting point for writing.
He added: “I’ve done a few football poems, but haven’t done any rugby poems yet.
“Whatever sport it is, it draws the kids in because they’re interested. It’s about meeting them where they are.”
Over 3,000 five- to 11-year-olds took part in the week’s festivities, and each pupil also took home a signed book from the writer who led their session.
Skidmore, who is also a Leicester Tigers member, delivered sessions on Wednesday.
“Giving the kids the experience of meeting a real, live author – instead of a dead one – is always good,” he said.
“One of the nice things for me is I’m a local Leicester boy from Birstall, so it’s nice to share that I have the same background as some of these kids.”
Tiffini Castle, project manager at Whatever It Takes, added: “I always say to people that it’s a full-on week where thousands of kids get to meet authors, learn from them, and get excited about reading.
“Each session is made up of meeting the author and hearing them speak, followed by a workshop where the children get to write or draw, again with the authors.
“[Welford Road] is a really good venue, and it’s a nice to work with people who take it as seriously as we do. It’s a great space.”
Whatever It Takes is an initiative aimed at inspiring Leicester schoolchildren to read for pleasure and to enjoy writing.
You can find out more by visiting their website.