A MAJOR new Children’s Literature Festival is to take place at Broughton Hall, near Skipton, in September.

More than 65 authors, poets, illustrators, storytellers and animators including Clare Balding, Sir Chris Hoy, Children’s Laureate Lauren Child, M G Leonard and G P Taylor will be taking part. More than 200 schools will be involved, reaching out to over 40,000 children across the region.

The festival, which runs from Thursday, September 27 to Sunday, September 30, is the brainchild of Trevor Wilson, managing director of Authors Abroad, which organises authors’ visits to schools across the world.

Trevor (pictured) has had a “life-long dream” of bringing some of the biggest names in children’s literature to Broughton Hall, home of the Tempest family since the 11th century.

He said: “I don’t just want to establish a new children’s literature festival in Yorkshire, exciting as that is. My ultimate aim is to make this the biggest festival of its kind in the UK. We are delighted with the authors we have attracted so far and are very confident of adding a couple more star names shortly.

“The line-up is very strong already and we will build on this, year on year, as news of the Broughton Hall Children’s Literature Festival spreads and our reputation grows. There has been nothing like this in the north of England, so we have entered uncharted territory. We’re proud of the substantial progress we have made to date.”

Television and radio presenter Clare Balding, also a bestselling children’s author, said: “It is a privilege to be taking part in Yorkshire’s first-ever children’s literature festival. I loved reading as a child - and I want to convey that love of literature to as many children today as I can today. Reading is hugely important when you’re young, it allows children to escape into alternative worlds but it’s also a really good way of learning about practical and emotional situations.”

Schools in the Skipton and Craven region will receive a visit from a writer appearing at the festival, and there will be a short story competition, with a winner picked from each school. The winners will have their story published in a book.

Authors Abroad have teamed up with Whitaker’s Chocolates of Skipton to launch ‘Billy Bonkers chocolate bars’ containing 200 ‘golden tickets’. Winners will be invited to the festival’s closing event to find out who has won the overall ‘Platinum Ticket’.

The festival will raise money for mental health charity the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, helping teachers to recognise and address issues affecting children, such as cyber bullying and peer group pressure.

“There is strong evidence to suggest that reading is beneficial for a child’s mental wellbeing, so it is very appropriate that money raised from the festival will go to such a pro-active and successful mental health charity,” said Trevor.

The festival is supported by local business and organisations including Welcome To Yorkshire and Skipton Building Society and Bradford Grammar School.

Sir Gary Verity, Chief Executive at Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “Yorkshire has a great literary history, so it’s fantastic to hear that Broughton Hall will be playing host to an array of wonderful children’s authors at this major children’s literature festival. Books play an important part in people’s lives, it’s crucial to encourage reading at a young age. This fabulous event promises to be a lot of fun for all ages.”

* For more about the festival go to authorsabroad.com

Emma Clayton