A NUMBER of literacy projects have been launched in the district as figures show more than 5,000 Bradford children don't own a single book, it has emerged.

The research, published today by the National Literacy Trust, suggests children who own books are six times more likely to read above expected levels.

Bradford Stories Festival's Nabeelah Hafeez has called for people to start "reviving" a love for reading in their own communities by putting books in barber shops or having bedtime stories every night.

Despite the gloomy figures there is light at the end of the tunnel, Nabeelah says, as performers and artists unite for the first year of Bradford Stories Festival.

The six-month long event encourages children to find their voice through creative workshops and historic tours, such as places of worship on Leeds Road, across the city.

The project manager told the Telegraph & Argus: "It felt close to my heart. I was born here and I'm very close to the communities here. But there's a space where we can create more (opportunities), we can build.

"What's really important is that reading and books should not be seen as a luxury. Books are for everyone. The access to books and stories for young children is so important to build life skills and skills within school. It's so crucial to their development.

"I feel it's something every child should have access to.

"The art of storytelling is within so many backgrounds."

Working with 12 schools across the district, children will put together exhibitions about their lives, hometowns, local landmarks and more in a bid to find a passion for storytelling.

Bradford Stories has already donated 4,200 books to children and young people to help close the gap in book ownership once and for all.

As Christmas approaches, families are urged to give the "gift of reading" to children.

Backing the campaign is Cressida Cowell, Nadiya Hussain and Dermot O’Leary who are among 24 authors and illustrators to recommend a book they would give and why.

Children who own books are nearly three times more likely to enjoy reading and more than twice as likely to agree that reading is cool.

Imran Hafeez, Bradford Stories manager, said: “Books have the power to transform children’s reading skills, enjoyment and mental wellbeing. There are so many children in Bradford missing out on the chance to reach their full potential because they don’t have a book of their own at home. We’re really proud to be taking steps to get books into the hands of children who need them most but it’s really important that we keep working to close the gap for good.”

One book a day from the list will be shared on the charity’s social media channels (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) throughout advent. The Christmas book list can be found on wordsforlife.org.uk where families can also take part in the charity’s Christmas book giveaway and access a range of free, fun and festive reading and writing activities everyone can enjoy. The book giveaway closes on December 13.