Sophie and Florence

Readathon, Festivals, Books and Me – A blog from Readathon’s Schools Manager, Heidi Perry

“Reading is unique because it’s the only art form which is experienced privately; music, art, dance, theatre, all those are group experiences we share with others, but reading is intensely solitary – unless you go to a literary festival to share the wonder of reading with others.”

This is the view of Peter Florence, Director of the annual Telegraph Hay Festival. I was talking with him at the launch of its free programme for Welsh schools, part of the HayDays festival for children which gathers some of the biggest names in children’s fiction. It was a fitting conversation to have at this event, which also celebrated the success of this year’s partnership between the Telegraph Hay Festival and Readathon, the charity I work for. Readathon’s sponsored reading event in schools encourages children to read whatever they chose – from comics to classics – to raise money for Readathon’s programme, which provides a regular supply of brand new books and storytellers in all of the UK’s major children’s hospitals.

In the weeks before the Hay Festival we launched a nationwide campaign inviting all schools to read along together by running Readathon. As an extra incentive, all those who ordered our free resource kit went into a prize draw to win a visit from CBBC stars and authors Sam and Mark. An amazing 150 schools signed up, with 41,000 children pledging to read! This remarkable response demonstrates that reading can indeed be a shared experience and one which schools can use to help children embrace reading for pleasure. During an era in which children and young people share much of their lives with each other online, it feels right to champion the very real experience of reading both as a private and publicly shared activity.

Readathon is also partnering with Manchester Children’s Book Festival (, 23rd June- 4th July) and the Telegraph Bath Children’s Literature Festival (, Saturday 1st October – Sunday 9th October).

Heidi Perry,

Readathon Schools Manager

Heidi Perry, Readathon Schools Manager
Heidi Perry, Readathon Schools Manager