The Together Festival 2019 will be the UK's FIRST fully inclusive children’s literary festival! We aim to promote a spirit of togetherness whilst improving access to literacy and the love of reading in underrepresented groups such as ethnic minorities, children with disabilities and families with an unconventional makeup.
Over three days, you can expect world-class author readings, live shows, illustrator and creative writing workshops, a book fair, inclusive bookshop and more! Plus, we will be making sure our events are as accessible and inclusive as possible, putting on dedicated events that inspire a love of reading for children with sight and hearing impairments and learning difficulties.
Why This Is Needed
'If in their formative years, children do not see their realities reflected in the world around them or only see problematic representations mirrored back at them, the impact can be tremendously damaging.' Every child deserves to see themselves in the pages of a book, regardless of their socioeconomic background, disability, family makeup or ethnicity. But in 2019, this isn't the case for most children.
This year's theme is BAME Representation, in response to the CLPE’s ‘Reflecting Realities’ report. This report found only 1% of children’s books published in 2017 contained a BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) main character and only 4% contained any BAME supporting characters.
According to the Department for Education's 2017 'Schools, pupils and their characteristics' report, 32.1% of pupils of compulsory school age in primary schools are of minority ethnic origins. In secondary schools, 29.1% of pupils are of minority ethnic origins. Both figures are steadily increasing.
There is a serious lack of representation in the children’s publishing industry and we hope that through a collective and unified effort, we can help work towards a future where at least 30% of children’s books have a character of BAME origins.
The Literary Festival
In Summer 2019, we will be hosting the first ever inclusive Children’s Literary Festival.
You can expect:
- Live shows and film screenings
- Author readings/talks
- Storytelling sessions featuring books such as The Wheels on Tuk Tuk, Nimesh the Adventurer and The Ghanaian Goldilocks, There's Room for Everyone and Handa's Surprise
- Illustrator workshops
- Creative writing workshops brought to you by The Lil' Author Skool
- An all-inclusive bookshop
- A world food market
- And much more!
In the spirit of togetherness, there will also be a number of collaborative projects inspired by inclusive and diverse books such as:
- Our City Mural: children can help build the London of the future through collage, inspired by What Can A Citizen Do? written by Dave Eggers and illustrated by Shawn Harris
- Wall of Words: children and parents can add words of their choice to our wall of words whether they make them happy, laugh or are even made up, inspired by The Word Collector written and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. We want to collect words in as many languages as possible!
- The Idea Jar: help us answer the question ‘How can we make our world a better place?’ by putting your ideas into our giant lifesize idea jar, inspired by The Idea Jar written Adam Lehrhaupt and illustrated by Deb Pilluti
We will have a range of both free and ticketed events.
The Book Fair
In Autumn 2019, we will be holding London’s first ever Inclusive Children’s Book Fair. Through this one-off event, we will be offering both large and small publishers the opportunity to exhibit, you’ll be able to browse and purchase every diverse and inclusive book on offer. There will be a dedicated space for self-published authors too! For one day only, we will also be hosting a range of panels, talks and workshops by The Author School discussing the issues faced in the publishing industry such as incidental inclusion, cultivating own voices and raising cultural awareness. Our 'model' bookshop will contain a minimum of 30% books that represent BAME characters and will demonstrate how retailers and publishers can successfully market these books alongside their existing mainstream titles. Curating the perfect mix of inclusive titles, independent & commercial publishers, self-published & agented authors, we hope retailers can walk away with the inspiration of how to better diversify their own shelves!
The aim of the Book Fair is to provide solutions to the lack of diversity and inclusion, tailoring the discussions into concrete solutions and will bring everyone together to champion the same common goal!
This will be a ticketed event.
How We Will Use Your Donations
The two biggest costs will be hiring out the venues and fees for speakers, authors and illustrators. We want to ensure that all our speakers, authors and illustrators are fairly paid for their time, efforts and travel. All volunteers will be unpaid, however, food and refreshments will be provided for. This year's literary festival will be held in Greater London. Other costs in include:
- Storage and transportation
- Inclusive books and festival merchandise
- Printed Material
- Signage and Displays
- Insurance and Licenses
- Furniture/Fixture rentals
- Fulfilling Crowdfunder rewards
Our Future Plans
If our first event is a success and sustainable, we hope that in 2020 we will be able to host multiple Together Festivals across the UK to reach more children who may not have access to inclusive books and representation. We also plan to develop a 'Together Schools Programme' for 2020, bringing inclusive and diverse books to primary schools across the UK with exclusive mini Together Festivals.
Who We Are
The Together Festival team is made up of volunteers who have a passion for children’s literature and making the publishing industry more diverse. Our expertise spans across the publishing industry. We are made of up authors, publishers, booksellers, activists, parents, family and friends. The festival is founded and directed by Naomi Shakespeare, creator of généraliste an inclusive children's online bookshop.
Our Charity Partner
We are thrilled to be working with the support of the CLPE. Their groundbreaking Reflecting Realities report served as the inspiration for this festival and we hope that within our partnership we are able to work towards our vision of seeing the 1% becoming the 30%. The CLPE is a registered charity that has been working since 2002 to provide training, free resources and quality children's literature to teachers and children throughout the UK. All profits not reinvested in the future of the Together Festival will be donated to the CLPE so they continue to provide free books to schools throughout the UK.
We also excited to have the support of the Literally PR, Hashtag Press and Little Box of Books as our creative partners. They are supporting us with operational, creative and logistical knowledge plus helping us curate the best possible selection of inclusive books.
For more information about our festival please visit our website, www.togetherfest.co.uk