Book money

Sue Stops

It could be you . . .", and this time it was us - the Booksamazing team. Not that we had the six vital numbers, rather that our application for a National Lottery grant from Arts for Everyone Express had been successful. We were awarded Pounds 2,000 towards the running costs of The Body Show, our three-day contribution to Children's Book Week in Bristol, which finishes today. As any arts promoter knows, obtaining funding these days is difficult, especially for children's events - we were delighted.

Under the umbrella of Booksamazing, a group of established community organisations - the schools library service, the Puppet Place and Hope Centre - put together an application for funding. The Poetry Can added its support.

Booksamazing is not a book fair (books are not on sale) but an arts event for primary children which celebrates the best children's books, both fact and fiction. This week, 2,000 children attended one of twelve 75-minute sessions. The focus was on information books on the theme of the body, spiced up with poetry.

We commissioned Di Steeds, a puppeteer, to make the star of the show - a life-size puppet which opens up to reveal its innards. In another item a drummer with full hi-tech kit did practical (ie, noisy) sound-and-hearing experiments with the whole audience based on information obtained from the books on display - many supplied by supportive publishers.

Authors including Althea, Nick Arnold and Steve Parker, joined the presenters, Vivian French and myself. As always, students from the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School gave a high-energy poetry performance linked to the theme.

At Pounds 1 a head, a visit to Booksamazing is a bargain but the coach trip to the venue, Hope Centre, can cost schools more than Pounds 2 a head. We keep the entrance fee low to attract a wide cross-section of schools, including several for children with special needs. The Lottery enabled us to add an extra day this year, specially for infants.

But what of the future? Booksamazing is 15 years old and more than 50, 000 children have already enjoyed our events: it's time to expand. Let's hope that the National Lottery will be able to support us in the future - preferably on a long-term rather than a one-off basis. We are ready for another event that not only highlights the importance of books but encourages children to read them.

Sue Stops is an author, storyteller and co-ordinator of Booksamazing

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