Festival advice: be prepared!

Continuing our series on Festivals, the good, the bad and the ugly, Prime Writer and children’s author Sarah Todd Taylor, who wrote the wonderful ARTHUR AND ME , shares a funny story.

One year at my favourite festival I offered, at the last minute, to do a writing workshop for children on the theme of ‘how do we build a hero’? I’d planned it for 7-9 year olds, but had to think on my feet when my audience turned out to comprise mainly under fives.

Out went all attempts to get them to do any writing. In came dividing them into two and getting one half to make chicken noises and the other half to impersonate tree frogs as I made up stories on the spot, complete with actions. For half an hour I sat under the trees in the warm summer sun and told stories. I think it rates as one of the most fun but terrifying half hours of my life, and I learned a lot :

a) be prepared – you might not get the audience you’re expecting

b) find a way for the children to join in. If you’re not going to be able to get them writing, get them acting out the story, or making noises (preferably both)

c) keep it short – after 20 minutes I suspected they were starting to eye the ball pit, so I started to wind things up

d) keep smiling.





Sarah Todd Taylor – keep smiling


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