By Olivia Snaije
Following a report released in March by the CNL (Centre National du Livre) on the reading habits of the French that showed a decrease in reading among the 15-24 age group, the Ministry of Culture and Communication and the CNL are about to launch a new children’s book festival, which it is hoped will take place each summer. Clumsily named Lire en Short (Reading in shorts), the festival’s ambitions are nevertheless high—nationwide literary events will take place during a time when children are out of school, with more time to read.
Vincent Monadé, the CNL’s president, is concerned with focusing on and encouraging young readers—plans for the festival had already started with the former Minister of Culture, Aurélie Filippetti over a year ago.
Between July 17 and 31st, four cities and towns in France—Marseille, Bordeaux, Cergy-Pontoise (in the Paris suburbs) and Fécamp will become the headquarters for 1,200 events held country-wide and even in France’s overseas territory, New Caledonia.
Organizers plan to bring reading and events to where children are, whether in day care centers, campsites or on the beach with their parents; the aim is to create a lasting bond between reading and summer holidays. Publishers, libraries, bookshops, local organizations, town halls and tourist offices have all joined together to provide spaces and events, which will include open air book stalls, comic book and writing workshops, literary picnics, reading and signing sessions with authors and illustrators and countless activities which will integrate literature with theatre, cinema, music and the circus.
As Vincent Monadé said in a recent interview: “The challenge is to remind children that reading is one of the most wonderful leisure activities that exist. When you come across a book and you love it you often become a reader for the rest of your life.”