More than 400 schoolchildren attend World Book Day at Stratford Picturehouse

Hartley Primary schoolchildren celebrate World Bood Day at the Stratford Picturehouse.

Hartley Primary schoolchildren celebrate World Bood Day at the Stratford Picturehouse. - Credit: Archant

For the first time, the Stratford Picturehouse broadcast the Biggest Book Show on Earth live on Thursday with around 400 children packing out Screens One and Two.

The Newham schools enjoyed a presentation from Francesca Simon, author of the hugely popular Horrid Henry books, who showed the pupils how to bring characters to life and the ‘grand dame’ of children’s literature Shirley Hughes who explained how illustrations were used.

Francesca Simon will also be doing a booksigning in person at the Picturehouse, in partnership with Stratford’s Discover Story Centre, on Wednesday from 11.30am to 12.30am as part of an event called the Big Write.

The Stratford Picturehouse also teamed up with the Newham Bookshop who were in the foyer on the day handing out the children’s choices for World Book Day.

Dominic Voyce, General Manager of the cinema, said: “For World Book Day, the main thing is to see the writers on the stage at the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the schools will be getting an introduction to it that way.

“The live streaming is good because it just means it’s taking reading out to a wider audience and making these things less exclusive and letting people see them.

“We had to do a bit of technical wizardry to be able to show it to be able to show it in two screens at the same time. It takes some long cables and multiple satellite boxes. We’ve done it before so it’s OK.

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“Part of the digital technology is that you have the facility to show much more content in different ways which is good.

“The Newham Bookshop events have been really good. It’s a really good fit, I suppose, because it fits our existing customers and they’re events that are very easy to run.

“Jacqueline Wilson was amazing because it was on a Sunday afternoon and we sold out Screen One well in advance and we rarely sell out a whole screen, especially the biggest one, in advance for anything.

“But what was brilliant about it was that afterwards she was signing books so there were about 200 children lining the walls, sitting on the floor, reading their books.

“It’s really heart-warming to see something like that, especially when all you hear is that everyone is plugged into computers and staring at their phones all day, that that kind of thing is still happening.”

During the event, hosted by actor and Time Team presenter Tony Robinson, Francesca Simon also read an extract from her forthcoming book Horrid Henry’s Nightmare, and there were book prizes for pupils who came dressed up as their favourite characters.

Also taking to the stage to help the children improve their writing was Lauren Child, author of Ruby Redfort, Liz Pichon, author of Tom Gates, Cathy Cassidy, author of The Chocolate Box Girls, and Anthony Horowitz, author of Diamond Brothers,