The Malta Independent 18 April 2024, Thursday
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Starting them young: this year’s Malta Book Festival expects to double students’ attendance

Thursday, 25 October 2018, 11:56 Last update: about 6 years ago

The 2018 edition of the Malta Book Festival is expecting to double the attendance rate of students compared to last year's edition. Children and their teachers from schools from across Malta and Gozo will make their way to the MCC for the morning activities. The projected numbers show an increased popularity of the Festival with the younger audience - a direct result of the commitment that the National Book Council has taken to use the Malta Book Festival to promote a culture of reading and love of books among children and teenagers.


Reading is a competence which the NBC aims to strengthen in children, and the number of activities with various stakeholders that are being organised for the Festival all focus on how to make reading enjoyable and relatable to children, and still reap the benefits out of it.

The Malta Book Festival is also a platform for publishers and authors specialising in children's books, which the Malta Book Festival will be increasingly promoting. For example, one can mention the performance by the Malta Visual and Performing Arts School (MVPA), which is new to the Festival. This is going to be done by students for students and is based on Fittixni by Antoinette Borg (a 2017 winner of the Terramaxka Prize organised by the NBC), which addresses young adults.

The other two performances will be catering for different age cohorts. One will be based on the book Il-Kamra ta' Jonas by Noel Tanti (also a 2017 winner of the Terramaxka Prize) and is targeted to younger students: actress Antonella Axisa will lead a team of actors for both a street theatre performance and one on stage. Additionally, Horizons is organising an activity based on the Maltese translation of the book El Cuento de Ferdinando (on which the children's film Ferdinand is based).

Encouraging reading has not only to do with enhancing reading skills, but also with making children conscious of their skill and proud of themselves as readers.

Another main event not to be missed are the shows by DANUSAN (Books Come to Life), who will be showing the importance of reading in their own hilarious way. The 1 hour and 30 minute shows are excellent for families with children, and will be held on Friday 9 and Saturday 10 in the evening at 7 pm, and Sunday 11 at 3 pm. For more information visit

Another activity that specifically targets this is the 'Reading Champions Award Ceremony', which will celebrate Year 8 students who already are ardent readers, others who have improved their skill, and also students who have inspired others to read. This event is organised by the National Literacy Agency in collaboration with the NBC and the Department of Curriculum Management of the Ministry for Education and Employment.

Very young children will also have the opportunity to start familiarising themselves with books at the MBF. One can mention the event organised by Malta Libraries, who, with their mantra #startthemyoung, are inviting all 0-3 year olds and their parents/guardians to an animated reading session in Maltese and led by the accomplished Dianne Giordimaina. Diane will read, sing, act and make a fun experience for all. She will also give tips for young parents/guardians with early-year reading dilemmas.

Why not head for one of the 'Read with Me' session, which will feature two-hour storytelling activity in English aimed at babies and toddlers up to the age of three. The event, also organised by the National Literacy Agency, will include sharing of storybooks, singing of nursery rhymes and other fun activities.

Apart from these activities, one can mention various book launches for children, readings, storytelling and workshops at various locations, including Merlin Publishers, Birdlife Malta, Merlin Library, Faraxa Publishers and more. The NBC urges parents/guardians and teachers to download or view the full programme of events of the 2018 Malta Book Festival:, so as to get the dates and timing of events.

Teachers are also advised to book for their visits. The booking's deadline is 20 October (with late applications accepted for a further week). Here is a link to the circular with further info: Children attending the Festival will get a 3 Euro voucher to spend on any book.

Families will also have the opportunity to visit the Malta Book Festival 2018 hassle free during the weekend, as a free shuttle service will be available on Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 November all day to and from Publju Bus Stop, near the Independence Monument in Floriana in Sarria Street, to the Mediterranean Conference Centre. The first trip from Floriana at 9:15 am on Saturday and 8:15 on Sunday, running every hour. Last trip from the MCC will be at 22:30 on Saturday and 21:30 on Sunday, running every hour. This service is free of charge and will be operating on Saturday and Sunday only.

The National Book Council's aim is to present an experience revolving around books and reading, adhering to a philosophy that provides age-appropriated learning. Being the biggest celebration of the book culture in the Maltese Islands, the Malta Book Festival has become the perfect location for children and their parents/guardians who want to have a unique meeting with books.

According to UNESCO, "Literacy is the fundamental right of every person and the basis for lifelong learning."

And as teacher Bertram Portelli explains, "Through different experiences at the Malta Book Festival, my students have become more and more aware of the beautiful world of books that awaits them."


This year's festival will be held on 7-11 November at the Mediterranean Conference Centre, Valletta. The programme of events will be delivered in printed form to all households in Malta and Gozo in the next two weeks.



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