The Reading is Magic Festival, featuring a top line-up of children and young adults’ writers and illustrators, is generously expanding its free streaming service to give home schoolers an extra helping hand for the duration of the lockdown. Followers of The Bath & Wilts Parent and Bristol Parent can enjoy free access when they join as members by using the promo code FREEMAGICBCLF at readingismagicfestival.com.

Festival organisers, the Bath Children’s Literature Festival, used their creativity when they realised that they weren’t able to put on a live festival for kids last autumn, inviting a host of writers to film themselves putting on a variety of events, from simple storytelling to heartfelt monologues sharing their own experiences. The autumn festival reached more than 155,000 children in some 30 countries.

Reading is Magic was supported by Cressida Cowell, creator of the How to Train Your Dragon series and the Waterstones UK Children’s Laureate (Photo David Bebber)

The initial plan was to start recouping some of the costs to arts charity Bath Festivals by charging a modest sum to view the 25 plus events, from 1 January 2021. But in light of the current social restrictions, partial school closures and return to home schooling for thousands of young people, it was decided to extend the free access period until the end of lockdown.

Here are some of the highlights of Reading is Magic:

Storytime. Join Kristina Stephenson for a visual session telling the story of her popular character Sir Charlie Stinky Socks and The Tale of Two Treasures. Or snuggle down with American award-winning writer and illustrator Jessica Love as she reads her book Julian is a Mermaid, a story of a grandmother’s unconditional love.

Inter-active sessions. Grab a pen and pencil and learn how to draw a cartoon version of yourself with Adam Murphy, creator of Corpse Talk, or draw along with The Big Draw Off as illustrators Steve Lenton and Sophy Henn battle it out to see who can create the best picture. Or if word games are your thing, try tackling some fiendish tongue-twisters with poet Joseph Coelho.

Each festival event is introduced by CBBC star Karim Zeroual.

Big issues. Bring a fresh perspective into your home by listening to someone talk about the bigger picture. Listen to activist, model and writer Eunice Olumide in conversation with Malizah, a young activist from Bristol about their experiences of the black curriculum in schools. Or hear author of the acclaimed book A Kind of Spark, Elle McNicoll speak candidly about representation in books and finding yourself.

Laugh out loud. Everyone needs a break. For sheer giggly silliness watch Sue Hendon and Paul Linnet of Supertato and No-Bot, or dive into the world of scary dinner ladies with author Pamela Buchart who also talks about her latest book Icarus was Ridiculous.