IT only takes one brilliant book or just a few words of gripping drama to become hooked for life.
The worlds that exist beyond our own are available to every child through the pages of great literature and the passion can last forever.
It doesn’t matter if it is fantastical fairies, devious detectives or teen tribulations which take their fancy, the important thing is to help youngsters discover the joy of reading.
Sheffield’s Off the Shelf Festival of Words 2011 gets under way this weekend and organisers are keen to spread the word about a range of events aimed at children and teenagers.
Everything from workshops, performances, graphic art displays and open mic nights are taking place at various venues throughout October.
Maria De Souza, one of the organisers, described the festival as offering an extensive range of events for people of every age and interest.
She said: “We see the events for children as really important; bringing books to life and giving young people the opportunity to meet favourite authors and try their hand at writing, performing and illustration.
“Our events are great fun and help to encourage a love of reading which will hopefully continue as an adult.”
The festival is organised by Sheffield City Council and run from October 8 to 29 in various venues across the city.
Some events have to be booked in advance but others are completely free and families can just turn up on the day.
Highlights include readings, poetry, workshops, exhibitions, community projects, walks, talks and more.
Nick Arnold will be doing a Horrible Science Show on Tuesday, October 25 at the Showroom Cinema – bringing fun and humour to yucky experiments as he talk through a feast of animals and scary stories. There will be a feast of foul facts, queasy quizzes and lots of disgustingly squishy bits.
There will be a performance of Street Child at the Blue Shed, Brightside Lane, on Friday, October 28, by Cotton Grass Theatre. Based on Berlie Doherty’s novel it tells the story of a Victorian orphan surviving the dangerous and lonely streets of London though puppetry, projection and live action.
Words in Pixels is a graphic and text based project commissioned by the festival. It has been produced by 14- to 18 -year-olds and will be on show in the Winter Garden From October 17 to 20. Writer and artist Vicky Morris worked with the group to create the display while communicating via social networks.
Children as young as two can follow tales of The Chimpanzees of Happytown at the Crucible with a musical performance from Ensemble 360, narrated by Polly Ives. It is a premiere concert including image projections from the book and lots of audience participation.
At the Showroom Cinema Christopher Lloyd will be showing off his coat of many pockets and giant wall of 1,000 pictures on a journey through four billion years of natural history in What On Earth Happened? The hour-long interactive voyage is on Thursday, October 27, and poses questions about how dinosaurs were killed off and why the sky is blue.
Main sponsor Civica is also supporting a series of free events for schoolchildren in community libraries across the city.
They include meet the author Shoo Rayne, Curtis Jobling talking about his popular fantasy series about werewolves and poet James Carter performing his beautifully crafted poems for children.
Glenn Morgan, operations director of Civica’s education division, said: “We became aware of the event through our work providing bespoke ICT-based learning environments for secondary schools in Sheffield. It’s fitting that we support schools’ writing and learning ambitions on a nation-wide basis as the festival is gaining national prominence as a forum for ideas and learning.
“We were aware of Off the Shelf because of its excellent reputation and because some of the Sheffield schools we provide services for engage with the free author events the festival offers to schools.”