Herne Hill Kids’ Lit Fest is coming

woman taking to audience of children

Some of the country’s best children’s authors, illustrators and book industry figureheads will take part in the third Herne Hill Kids’ Lit Fest. Supported this year by Arts Council England, it runs from 1 to 6 February.

Tales On Moon Lane, the award-winning children’s bookshop, will host book signings and sales.

Last year’s festival saw 2,000 tickets booked in just three weeks. Booking for this year’s event is now open – details below.

The six-day festival will share and celebrate story-making in all its forms with events for local schools, after-school workshops, evening panel discussions, open mic sessions, and weekend children’s events.

The main venue will be Station Hall, above Herne Hill station. Authors and illustrators will also visit local schools, including The Michael Tippett School for children with complex needs and disabilities, and work closely with the Florence and Half Moon to host events from their fully accessible function rooms.

A theatre production, Be Not Afeard, will be performed by Collar & Cuffs, a multi-sensory company who specialise in supporting the mental health, wellbeing and emotional development of children in the early years and people with complex needs.

aerial view off school children working on floor

At the centre of this year’s festival is a “Stepping Into Stories” competition, which invites children of all ages to tell their own story, in any format, using this year’s theme, “Bouncing Back!”.

The deadline for entries is Friday 14 January. The judge will be children’s book author and illustrator, Chloë Inkpen, creator of titles I Will Love You AnywayMrs Blackhat, and Hole in the Zoo.

She is pleased the competition is “open to lots of different kinds of storytelling media, including pictures, comics and songs – not only writing”.

There are three age categories, each with exciting prizes. Chloë will announce the winners at a prize presentation on Sunday 6 February.



Arts Council England funding for this year’s event is a recognition of its quality and impact in 2019 and 2020, the all-woman organising team says.

The aim is for the festival to grow each year and to become an annual event “that puts Herne Hill and the surrounding area firmly on the map as a nucleus for world class children’s literature”.

In 2019, organisers worked with eight local schools to deliver a schools and public programme during Book Week with more than 650 people taking part.

children sitting on floor qt event with adult

Organisers say the festival will be run with audience and participant safety at its heart: “We will be following social distancing requirements closely and will contact all attendees with guidance shortly before the festival to ensure we keep everybody Covid safe”.

Festival participants will include Alice Hemming (The Leaf Thief); Alex Milway (Big Sky Mountain); Jane Porter (Tiny Penguins and The New Baby); Ken Wilson-Max (Astro Girl); Frann Preston-Gannon (The Bad Day); Cath Howe (How To Be Me); Margaret Bateson-Hill (Masha and the Firebird); Mo O’Hara (Agent Moose); Ally Sherrick (The Queen’s Fool); Jackie Marchant (A Girl Called Tom); Andrew Weale (poetry); Catherine Millar and Emily Drabble (Life-Changing Libraries with Cressida Cowell); Collar & Cuffs Theatre (Be Not Afeard); Miriam Halammy (Always Here For You); Sarah Mussi (Here Be Dragons); Loretta Schauer (Cinder Gorilla); Rashmi Sirdeshpande (Never Show A T-Rex A Book); Ross Montgomery (The Midnight Guardians); Dom Conlon (This Rock, That Rock); Patrice Lawrence (Diver’s Daughter); Chitra Sounder (Sona – Looking After Planet Earth); Lucy Reynolds (We Are Family); Tom Mitchell (Escape From Camp Boring); Alex Wheatle (The Humiliations of Welton Blake) and many more.

For ticket sales, more information about the festival, and details about the competition and how to apply, visit www.stationhallhernehill.org/stepping-into-stories.

All events need to be booked in advance via the website. There is a suggested ticket price of £1 for school sessions; £2.50 for after-school; £6 for weekend and evening sessions. Concessions for all events are available.

event with adults and children

The organising team is

Lucy Reynolds: children’s writer and long-time community project manager for Station Hall Herne Hill and the Herne Hill Forum

Mo O’Hara: children’s author, actor and storyteller and lead member of Children’s Writers and Illustrators for Stories and Literacy (CWISL

Margaret Bateson-Hill: children’s author and storyteller and lead member of CWISL.

Kathlyn Crocker: assistant manager at Tales On Moon Lane – UK Children’s Bookseller of the Year 2020, 2021 and UK Book Retailer of the Year 2021.

Hayley Byfield: director of Skewbald Theatre and venue manager at Station Hall Herne Hill.

The festival is run as a partnership between Station Hall Herne Hill, CWISL, and Tales on Moon Lane bookshop with backing from the Herne Hill Forum, and local schools, businesses and volunteers.

In 2020, 400 hours of volunteer time were given for free.