TOP authors and performing poets will come to Swindon next week to inspire youngsters with a love of literature.

The Swindon Youth Festival of Literature returns for its 12th year to celebrate creativity and encourage pupils to read and write.

The headline event on Thursday will see schools from all over town gather in the Wyvern Theatre to see young adult novelist and award-winning storyteller Annabel Pitcher.

Festival coordinator and Dorcan Academy librarian Kate Murphy said: “All the librarians have been very busy putting the finishing touches to the festival.

"You should never underestimate the impact seeing an author can have on students, it really sparks an interest in reading.

"We aim to have something for everyone or offer them something they didn't realise they liked which sets them off on a creative journey they didn't expect.

"It's always something we enjoy and look forward to, though it's a lot of work behind the scenes."

The lineup includes Swindon-born writer Karen Gregory and returning favourites Helen Dennis, Sarah Mussi, and Dave Cousins.

Emma Carroll, Steve Cole, , Phil Earle, Ele Fountain, Gareth P Jones, Mark Lowery, Jenny McLachlan, Kita Mitchell, Alexander Gordon Smith and Ali Sparkes will also speak to students about their work.

The return of the festival’s traditional inter-school book quiz on Friday will see bookworms battle it out in a fiendish competition, with hosts and current champions Ridgeway School hoping to retain the title.

Each school will host workshops and interactive talks from their chosen authors throughout the week. Pupils from partner primary schools are invited to join in.

The festival programme includes a trio of competitions to get children’s imaginations going. Karen Gregory will judge the creative writing competition where pupils will write 500 words based on one image.

Works of art inspired by text from Carnegie Medal 2019 winner Poet X will be judged by children’s author and illustrator Steve Anthony.

Mr Anthony will then take part in an illustration workshop with the winners at Swindon College on November 26.

Festival regular Ash Dickinson will once again tour all 12 Swindon secondary schools over five days and perform poetry to Year 7 pupils, then judge the poetry competition with entries based on the theme of truth.

Each school will nominate a student who has contributed to the running of the Learning Resource Centre and the coordination of the festival and the winners will be presented with a Library Ambassadors award.

The SYFL is funded by the Swindon Association of Secondary Heads, with additional sponsorship of prizes by Arval, Bower and Bailey, Browns Books for Students, and WH Smith.