Turning the page on sectarianism

1st July 2011 at 01:00
Children are encouraged to delve into emotive subjects at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Chris Small reports

From revolution to sectarianism to black holes, this summer's Edinburgh International Book Festival should appeal to all ages.

While the adult festival focuses on revolution, in particular the uprisings in the Middle East, the schools programme includes a special session on sectarianism.

Children's author Theresa Breslin and adult author and former police officer Karen Campbell will discuss Rangers and Celtic, Orange walks and knife culture in an event aimed at S4-S6 pupils and their teachers. Programme director Janet Smyth hopes this will stimulate classroom discussion around sectarianism and help give pupils a bridge between different types of reading.

"We are conscious that when you are 14 or 15, you may want to make the move from young adult to adult fiction but not be sure of what is available," she says. "Someone like Karen Campbell writes immediate, fast- paced fiction that appeals."

For younger children, there is the usual feast of famous names including new Children's Laureate Julia Donaldson, Jeremy Strong, and Arlene Phillips presenting her Alana Dancing Star books. Illustrator Nick Sharratt and actor James Mackenzie, from the BBC series Raven, will create stories in an interactive session for P3-5s, while Professor Mark Brake will be asking P4-7s "is the universe getting fatter?", accompanied by live rapping about time, gravity and black holes.

Each author's visit in the schools programme can be used as a springboard for classroom activities, says Miss Smyth, and selected events will be broadcast on the schools' intranet Glow.

Continuing professional development includes a talk from librarian Chris Morrison and modern languages teacher Judith Cohen on why the library is the true heart of the school, and a debate on comics in education, challenging assumptions that they pose a threat to literacy.

The influence of technology on learning is a recurring theme, with sessions on the rise of e-books and advances in multimedia.

August 13-29, www.edbookfest.co.uk.

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