May 2019

Find out about children's book events taking place this May.


The whole of May is National Share-a-Story Month. This is the Federation of Children's Book Groups' annual celebration to mark the power of storytelling and story sharing, with the aim of bringing children and stories together. Look out for events happening up and down the country.

1 May: The winner of the Jhalak Prize will be announced today – could it be a children's author?

4-7 May: For the first time, the Chiddingstone Literary Festival is taking place over four jam-packed days, starring more authors and workshops than ever before. There'll be dedicated days for families and schools, all taking part in the picturesque grounds of Chiddingstone Castle. Keep checking the website for updates.

4-26 May: Head down to the coast this month for Brighton Festival. Malian singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rokia Traoré has been named as the guest director for 2019, so the programme is bound to be a spectacular vision of music and creative arts. There'll be a children's parade with a 'folk tales from around the world' theme, and Onjali Q. Raúf's The Boy at the Back of the Class has been chosen as the 2019 'big read' for children across Sussex and beyond. Keep an eye on the festival website as more details of the programme are revealed.

11-12 May: Now in its fifth year, Barnes Children's Literature Festival takes place on 11 and 12 May 2019 and looks set to be another bumper year! It is the largest dedicated children's book festival in London and sold 8,500 tickets to 80 events last year. Brilliantly, it also offers the largest free festival schools’ programme in England and all profits from the festival go to local school libraries. Details of what's going on are now on the website - expect our current Writer in Residence Candy Gourlay and Waterstones Children's Laureate Lauren Child along with heaps of other wonderful authors and illustrators, workshops, storytelling sessions and theatre shows. You can even enjoy an Alice in Wonderland tea party!

12 May: Today is National Children's Day, celebrating the importance of a healthy childhood providing unlimited opportunities for young people.

13 May: The biggest night in the book industry is here: it's time for the British Book Industry Awards! We're super excited this year because there will now be two children's awards, one for fiction and the other for illustrated and non-fiction books. Who will take the crown from last year's joint winners The Hate U Give and The Lost Words?

17-26 May: The Bath Literature Festival will take place now - the line-up will be announced nearer the time.

23 May-2 June: One of the most well-known book festivals is Hay Festival, and it's back again for two weeks in 2019. With authors such as Julia Donaldson and Michael Rosen already confirmed, you know you want to be there! The winner of the YA Book Prize will also be announced towards the end of the festival. And don't miss BookTrust's events:

  • 25 May, 10am: Our Writer in Residence Candy Gourlay will discuss her brilliant novel Bone Talk.
  • 25 May, 11.30am: Current Waterstones Children's Laureate Lauren Child will team up with her Irish counterpart, Laureate na nÓg Sarah Crossan, for a discussion about access to books and the power of words and illustration.
  • 25 May, 4pmFormer Laureates Julia Donaldson, Michael Rosen and Chris Riddell will team up for a fun session about their time in the role - expect singing, acting, drawing and performing.
  • 26 May, 1pm: Waterstones Children's Laureate Lauren Child will discuss Hubert Horatio and her illustrated edition of Mary Poppins with author Frank Cottrell Boyce.
  • 27 May, 11.30am: The BookTrust Storytime Prize - celebrating the best books for sharing with babies and young children - will announce its shortlist in an event hosted by Floella Benjamin. Enjoy readings from the books and the chance to make some noise!
  • 27 May, 2.30pm: The BookTrust Storytelling Event! Join BookTrust Cymru to celebrate some of the books nominated for the Storytime Prize and enjoy some of our favourite bilingual Bookstart books. This session will be in English and Welsh, suitable for Welsh learners. 

25 May-2 June: It's time for the Edinburgh International Children's Festival - stay tuned for updates about what will be taking place.

25 May: It's a big year for Elmer this year... the multi-coloured patchwork elephant has been around for 30 years! Today is officially Elmer Day, which is a day spent celebrating your own true colours, and this year it's going to be extra special.

May-December: The highly-anticipated annual Southbank Centre Literature season starts this month and runs until December. There will undoubtedly be something for all members of the family.

Also in May: The English Association 4-11 Picture Book Awards will be announced... the International Literature Festival Dublin will take place... Chosen by children from Leeds, the winners in four categories at the Leeds Book Awards will be unveiled.