A magical day in Sheffield to celebrate the joy of reading stories

Off the shelf on The Moor
Lyla Moylan and Fiona Mannion making dragons
Off the shelf on The Moor Lyla Moylan and Fiona Mannion making dragons

Sheffield’s Off the Shelf book festival got under way with an event that celebrated the magic of reading - quite literally.

Magical Books, a free occasion for families on The Moor, had a fantasy and fairytale theme, enlivened with witches and wizards, conjuring tricks and even an appearance by the Harry Potter character Hagrid - or a convincingly tall lookalike, at least.

Off the shelf on The Moor
Sarah and Daniel Parkin playing a card game with mum Joanne

Off the shelf on The Moor Sarah and Daniel Parkin playing a card game with mum Joanne

Tents were set up along the shopping street where young visitors could make a dragon puppet, create ‘potions’ and try their hand at playing a glass harp. Participants were encouraged to wear fancy dress and parade their costumes on a catwalk.

The Rotherham charity Grimm & Co, which encourages children to write, was involved on Saturday.

Deborah Bullivant, founding director, said Off the Shelf was ‘fantastic’.

“We’re trying to bring diversity - it’s something that children from all backgrounds enjoy, doing something magical.”

Off the shelf on The Moor
Arabella and her mum making bats

Off the shelf on The Moor Arabella and her mum making bats

Taking a glance at those busily scribbling away, she said there might just have been a future Booker Prize winner in their midst. “That’s what we aim to get!”

Lesley Webster, from the festival team, said the event tied in with the 20th anniversary of author JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book.

“We just want it to be fun. I do think it’s our best festival programme this year.”

Magical Books was sponsored by The Moor and supported by the Sheffield city centre business improvement district.