The Big Read & Write

Cambridgeshire’s annual literacy initiative for Year 5 children. Our next event takes place on Wednesday 25th March 2020. Schools from across the county are invited to bring classes to the live event at Lady Mitchell Hall in Cambridge OR join us via the live WEBCAST.

For 2020 our theme is ‘Precious Planet’ and featured author is Sita Brahamachari and her book ‘Where the river runs gold’.

Schools will be invited at the end of November 2019 to apply for places in the live audience or to subscribe to the live webcast. All participating schools, whether attending in person or connecting remotely will benefit from a dedicated teacher resource pack. Advance expressions of interest are welcomed – please email our Project Manager Suzie Young .

On the day Sita will be reading from her book, sharing storytelling tips and launching a county-wide story writing competition for all of Cambridgeshire’s Year 5 children. The competition offers great prizes for the winning author and their school!

in collaboration with Empathy Lab
Big Read and Write 2020 with Sita Brahamachari


This fantastic initiative encourages children’s love of the written word and is a collaborative project between The Kite TSA Cambridge, Cambridge Literary Festival and Cambridgeshire County Council and Empathy Lab.  We’re particularly excited to be continuing our collaboration with Empathy Lab who’s work with schools is underpinned by research showing that relating imaginatively to book characters builds real-life empathy skills.

In 2015 the first ever Big Read & Write enabled Key Stage 2 children from across Cambridgeshire to hear from and be inspired by Francesca Simon, author of the hugely popular “Horrid Henry” series of books. In 2016 our featured author Chris Priestley helped Year 5 children to see how they could use their imagination to develop creepy scenes, settings and characters for their very own stories of suspense. In 2018 we began our new chapter with Empathy Lab and featured Jo Cotterill and her book Library of Lemons.

As ever, we will continue to create a wonderful storytelling relay at the Big Read at The Big Weekend in July 2020.  

Don’t forget to follow @bigreadandwrite on twitter to keep up with the latest Big Read and Write news!

The Big Read & Write was borne out of an idea that Rachel Snape, Head of The Kite TSA and Cathy Moore, Founder and Director of Cambridge Literary Festival developed. They both knew that the literary festival was a wonderful celebration of books and whilst the Festival provides a Children’s programme they wanted to do more to help as many children as possible to know what it felt like to hear from Authors and celebrate good books. The key to achieving this broader reach was to create a live event which could then be broadcast via a live webcast. So, since 2015 we’ve held a live event at Lady Mitchell Hall in Cambridge where around fifteen schools bring more than 400 children. Meanwhile an ever increasing number of schools across the county are able to participate remotely by watching on a big screen in their classroom or assembly hall. Furthermore we have made the experience interactive by encouraging schools to tweet (@bigreadandwrite) in questions for the author to answer during the live Q&A.

The hour long live event allows the featured author to share extracts from their books and to give a little bit of background about how they came to be a writer. They then introduce The Big Read & Write Story Writing Competition to children and build up excitement about the great prizes on offer. Finally our author goes on to a Q&A session which allows children to connect and really delve into what its like to be a writer and hear some tips and advice for success.

In 2015 and 2016 we provided teachers with a schools pack ahead of the live event so that they have a clear idea about what’s involved both on the day and with the competition. Plans for creating a professional learning offer to support children’s writing skills are in the pipeline.

The Big Read & Write 2016
1 Mar 2016

The Big Read and Write 2016 featured author; Chris Priestley
Big Read and Write 2015
1 April 2015

Horrid Henry author, Francesca Simon shares how she creates her stories of mischief and adventure.