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All eyes on the world's biggest arts gala

Edinburgh is set to take centre stage for the annual celebration of musical, stage and literary talent

Book-love, said Holbrook Jackson, author of The Anatomy of Bibliomania, lasts throughout life. "It never flags or fails but, like beauty itself, is a joy forever."

Regardless of whether you are a bibliophile or simply like a good read, for bookworms everywhere it is that time of year again when Edinburgh gears up for its annual International Book Festival.

It runs from August 13 to 29 and is packed with events tailored for children and families. In addition, a programme of school events is running, on weekdays only, from August 22, culminating in a gala day on August 30 for primary schools across Scotland.

"This programme is packed with the best in children's writing for primary and secondary pupils," says Karen Mountney, the children's programme director. "An outstanding line-up of authors for teenagers sit alongside leading writers for younger pupils."

As well as dozens of author talks and readings, there are interactive events at which pupils will be able to disguise themselves as a supersleuth hero, dress up as a centurion, create the plot for a story, draw cartoon characters, create a dragon collage, play African games and sing in Scots.

Big names making an appearance include Michael Morpurgo, Jacqueline Wilson, Julia Donaldson, Joan Lingard, Melvin Burgess, Philip Ardagh and Cornelia Funke.

Highlights include a workshop with Vivian French and an illustrator from Edinburgh College of Art (August 22, P1-P4), where children will be equipped with all the ingredients needed to make their own picture book, after planning a story and thinking about how pictures can help to tell a tale.

For all budding authors out there, Nicola Morgan will be spilling the beans about some of her top tips in a writing workshop for teenagers (August 23, S1-S3), while younger pupils can find out how to fish for piranha, scream like a spider monkey and survive in a swamp full of hungry crocodiles with physics teacher, explorer and author Simon Chapman (August 24, P5-P7).

Magazine agony uncle and author Matt Whyman will tackle thought-provoking subjects in his talk about Colombian child assassins and rocket chasing across Central Asia (August 25, S1-S3), while fantasy writer Catherine Fisher will focus on her fascination with myth, history and the blurring of boundaries between the real and supernatural (August 26, P7-S2).

Issues of asylum and refugees will be explored in a workshop with Dan Jones, an education officer for Amnesty International (August 29, S1-S2).

The session will look at the story of a family fleeing from persecution and pupils will be asked to decide who should stay or go, plan the escape and decide what to take with them. At the border they must argue their case to immigration officials.

Itchy Coo actors will chant, lowp, birl and pure belt oot poems and songs from the Scots poetry anthology Blethertoun Braes (August 30, P6-P7).

Ifeoma Onyefulu will talk about the richness of African culture (August 30, P1-P3), while Brita Granstrom and Mick Manning will have youngsters voting for their favourite Roman gladiator (August 30, P3-P5).

Teenagers will also be catered for with special events including a workshop on writing for the stage (August 22) and a discussion about teen-adult crossover fiction, exploring how far you can push the boundaries in teenage writing (August 24).

Teachers, meanwhile, can participate in classes on learning styles (August 17), digital literacy (August 18), understanding adolescent behaviour and the teenage brain (August 22) and the vital elements for literacy education: reading, writing, talking and listening (August 29).

With such a diversity of events on offer for children of all ages, perhaps Holbrook Jackson will have some converts to his way of thinking. 0131 624 5050 Places for many events are limited

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