Barnes Children's Literature Festival

Barnes Children's Literature Festival - blog post image
BY Julia Thum | 0 Comment(s)

If you can find the time, and you are in or around London, why not pay this gorgeous festival a visit. It's the world's largest dedicated children's literature festival. Details can be found here

Below is an article from the 2016 festival, with legendary author SF Said talking about why children's books are the most important books of all:- 

I write children’s books because I believe they’re the most important books of all.

I remember reading Watership Down by Richard Adams when I was eight, and thinking it was the best book I’d ever read. I re-read it when I was 35, and thought it was even better! But where at eight I’d seen a thrilling adventure story about rabbits trying to survive in the wild, as an adult I saw a story about the big questions of human life. Who are we? Where do we come from? Where do we belong? How should we live? And what really matters?


It was still thrilling – but now I realised it was full of politics, philosophy, mythology. It dealt with the most profound themes imaginable. But it did it in a totally accessible and page-turning way that I could easily grasp at eight. I also realised how deeply it had shaped the way I see the world. Because the books we love when we’re young stay with us forever, and make us who we are.

That was exactly the kind of book I wanted to write myself. So I put everything I have, and everything I know, into writing children’s books. I put years and years of work into making each of my books the best it can possibly be; making them as thrilling and page-turning as I can, but also filling them with the biggest questions and ideas that I have.


Varjak Paw is about a cat who learns a secret martial art known only to cats.

Phoenix is about a human boy with the power of a star, and an alien girl who is the most brilliant warrior in the galaxy.

But they’re also books about characters who are grappling with those big questions. Who are we? Where do we come from? Where do we belong? How should we live? And what really matters?


So although my books are sold as children’s books, I think of them as books for everyone, really. Books that anyone can read: boys, girls, men, women. Whoever you are, however old you are, I hope you’ll find something of interest there, because those big questions matter to everyone.

I think children’s literature is more than capable of dealing with such questions. The great stories that we’ve handed down from generation to generation – since our ancestors sat around campfires 70,000 years ago, which will still be handed down in space stations, 70,000 years in the future – these stories all embody ideas about what it means to be human and alive; about how we should live and treat each other; about what really matters.

I think you’ll find them in all good children’s books. So that is why I write them – and why I believe they’re the most important books of all. @whatSFSaid




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