Earlier this week, the older two children and I headed into Manchester to watch a performance that was organised as part of the Children’s Bookshow. It was a fantastic morning and really inspiring.
What is the Children’s Bookshow?
The Children’s Bookshow is an arts charity whose aim is to inspire children with a love of reading. Each autumn they have a programme of theatre events (and accompanying in-school workshops). A range of artists are chosen from a variety of countries and cultures, which gives children access to the best stories, poems and illustrations from around the world.
The programme for 2019 can be found on the website and includes Alexis Deacon (who we saw last year in Manchester), Jessica Souhami (who has some fantastic books), Michael Rosen and Guo Yue and Clare Farrow who we saw earlier this week.
The Manchester Performance
The Manchester event this year took place at Home which is a fabulous setting. We were watching a performance of Little Leap Forward which is the story of a boy growing up in Beijing. The story is based on the early life of Guo Yue and has been brought to life his wife, Clare Farrow.
There’s always something very special about hearing a story read by its author; it brings it to life in a truly magical way. And this was no exception. Little Leap Forward is a wonderful story and was brilliantly brought to life by Guo and Clare and their use of music, images and authentic props. The children were all captivated and eager to join in when prompted.
The power of books
I’ll confess to not having read the book as yet; Daniel has been reading it, however, but it felt to me that there were messages of freedom woven throughout the excerpts that we heard. Messages about appreciating your own freedom and respecting that of others. Messages of you don’t truly know and appreciate what you have until it’s no longer there.
There was an interesting point in the performance when Clare showed a picture of a pyre of burning books; Daniel was horrified at the idea and it prompted discussion on the way home with both the children.
Coincidentally Home is located very close to where the Conservative Party Conference was being held, and as we left Manchester and saw the many Police and protestors it was a good moment to reflect on the rights and freedoms we have to protest and how that might have looked different for Guo in Beijing during the cultural revolution.
Books are a really powerful tool for opening up those sorts of conversations, and I am sure it will be something that we return to when we, inevitably, go back to the polls in the coming months.
I’ve said it before, but seeing a book performed by it’s author really is amazing and it gives children a different insight – to connect the book in their hands to the physical person in front of them is a precious moment and one that inspires and enriches their education no end.
The Children’s Bookshow is fantastic, and it is well worth looking for an event near you and making attempts for your own local Home Ed or school group to visit.