Reading is Magic Festival:

CRESSIDA Cowell, best-selling author of How to Train Your Dragon and The Wizards of Once, is headlining Bath’s Reading Is Magic Festival, a digital celebration of children’s literature, from Sunday 27th September to Friday 2nd October.

The festival  will be hosted by TV presenter, broadcaster and Strictly Come Dancing finalist, Karim Zeroual, and other writers taking part, including Cressida Cowell, who is the current Waterstones’ Children’s Laureate, include Bath-based Jasbinder Bilan and Bath Children’s Literature Festival favourite illustrator Chris Riddell.

Reading Is Magic has been created by Bath Children’s Literature Festival in partnerships with other book festivals – Borders Book Festival, Boswell Book Festival, Bradford Literature Festival, Brooklyn Book Festival, Henley Literary Festival, North Cornwall Book Festival, Wigtown Book Festival, and Toronto International Festival of Authors.

Thousands of young people all over the world have already been signed up to take part as schools and families are invited to register free at to bring favourite writers and illustrators virtually into their classrooms and homes. 

Events will last between 10 and 30 minutes and will be broadcast on a schools-friendly platform. All visual events will have captions, a British Sign Language interpreter and the festival has worked with Bath’s Egg Theatre’s young audio describers to advise the authors and illustrators on audio describing so that more children can enjoy them. 

The festival has been inspired by Cressida Cowell’s message: “Reading is magic, and magic is for everyone.” She says: “Books have a transformative magic in their unique ability to develop three key magical powers: intelligence, creativity and empathy.”

The programme’s content is themed around five of the ten points on her Waterstones Children’s Laureate Charter – “Every child has the right to… be creative for at least 15 minutes a week, have a planet to read on, see themselves reflected in a book, have advice from a trained librarian or bookseller, and read for the joy of it.”

Among the writers and illustrators leading sessions are New York based mural artist Katie Yamasaki, Costa Book Award-winner 2019, Jasbinder Bilan, whose new book, Tamarind and the Star of Ishta, has just been published, and Dara McAnulty, the award-winning author of Diary of a Young Naturalist. 

Full details can be found at

Pictured: Cressida Cowell, photograph by David Bebber; Jasbinder Bilan, photograph by Ian Sharp.