The B.F.D. – The Bowen Festival of Dahl

In April 1999 I received an email from Yasmin Greenhalgh, who works as a Children’s Library Assistant at the Bowen Library in Maroubra, Australia. During the Easter holiday Ms. Greenhalgh decided to indulge her life-long love of Dahl’s books and plan a literary festival for the children. She writes: “We’ve tried to do activities that work for most ages 6-16yrs, and it has been immensely popular already – everyone seems to be appreciative of the fact we are doing something with a learning/literacy bent to it – instead of just entertaining the kids.” What follows is a general outline of some of the activities she planned. If you have any specific questions or comments, feel free to email her at If your school does something similar, tell me about it!

Film Festival

There have been some great Dahl movies made… Why not show them? Ms. Greenhalgh writes that her library scheduled a one hour session and showed films that they borrowed from a children’s library film circuit. Apparently this idea was a smashing success – they more than quadrupled the usual size of their audience!

Fractured Fairytales Workshop

Activities: reading excerpts from Revolting Rhymes out loud to the children and then encouraging them to create their own retelling of a traditional fairytale. Suggest changing the endings/characters, putting themselves in the story, making it rhyme/rap, telling it back-to-front, etc. Afterwards “publish” the results (read: type it up/collate and give them copies).

Revolting Recipes

Ms. Greenhalgh writes, “How could I not do this!? This session is next week and already over booked! We will make lickable wallpaper for nurseries (we were going to make frobscottle as well but we have too many kids now). This activity exists purely because of the wonderful book by the same name.”

Roald Dahl Quiz and Costumes Night

Have staff/kids/parents all dress up in costumes inspired by Dahl’s books. Decorate the auditorium/classroom like a chocolate factory (or another famous Dahl setting). Refer to The Roald Dahl Quiz Book and stage a game show for the children. Award chocolates to those that answer questions correctly.