By Jacqueline Grima
The Manchester Children’s Book Festival took over Central Library this weekend with an event entitled Generation #MCRTakeover. The day-long event aimed to engage the young adults of Manchester with literature and to encourage them to discuss topics and issues that are important in their lives.
Festival Director Kay Tew said, “The whole day is about opening up a conversation between young people and the Manchester Children’s Book Festival. We want to talk to young adults and find out what they are looking for in a book festival and how they would like it to move forward in the future.”
Activities on offer at the library included an open mic poetry performance hosted by young people’s poetry groups Wordsmith and Young Identity and compered by poets Chris Jam and Alex Wheatle. Subjects explored by the young poets included prejudice, identity and sexuality.
Young people at the event also had the opportunity to put questions about mental health and well being to Young Adult Fiction authors Juno Dawson, Non Pratt and Siobhan Curham. Topics covered during the Q&A session included self-harm, LGBTQI issues and the future after the EU Referendum.
Jani Abs-Brown, who attended the event with sons Joss and Isaac, said, “I really like the way the Book Festival has developed so that, as the boys get older, there is always something for them to engage with. There is something for every age. The Q&A session was particularly informative.”
On hand to give information were representatives from Mind, Manchester, the Wai Yin Society and the Manchester Youth Council whose mission it is to ‘engage, unite, inform, represent, empower and support’ the young people of Manchester.
Guests were also invited to take part in workshops with the Manchester School of Art’s Peppered Moth Project and Manchester Metropolitan University’s Time to Change society who were exploring the importance of positive body image and a healthy relationship with food through plasticine models.
Time to Change volunteer Ben Cassidy said, “We are constantly bombarded with images from the media about how we should look. Making a plasticine model of yourself makes you think outside the box. Often, we have a perception of ourselves that is completely different from how other people see us.”
Everybody who attended the event was also encouraged to play a game of pool with Cue Ball Crazy and have their photograph taken in the MMU Futures Photo Booth. All the photographs taken will be put together in a collage intended to capture an image of Generation #MCRTakeover.
The day ended with a talk by author and Festival Patron Curtis Jobling. Curtis talked about his career working with claymation animation and demonstrated some animation techniques, encouraging the young people in the audience to work hard towards their creative goals. He also launched his new novel Max Helsing: Monster Hunter.