A NEW children’s literature festival is to take place at Broughton Hall near Skipton.

More than 65 authors, poets, illustrators, storytellers and animators, including Clare Balding, Sir Chris Hoy, M G Leonard and G P Taylor, will be taking part. Over 200 schools will be involved.

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

It will fulfil Trevor’s dream of bringing the biggest names in children’s literature to Broughton Hall, home of the Tempest family since the 11th century.

He explained: “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. The line-up is very strong 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, but we are proud of the substantial progress we have made to date.”

Clare Balding, a best-selling children’s author and media star, 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 as I can today.

“Reading is hugely important when you are young. I think it allows children to escape into alternative worlds but it’s also a really good way of learning about practical and emotional situations.”

Trevor said the central theme of the festival was to involve the 200 schools in the Skipton and Craven region, covering both North and West Yorkshire. All these schools will receive a visit from one of the authors or poets taking part in the festival, while there will be a short story competition with a winner from every school. Each winner will then have his/her story published in a ‘proper book’ thus making them real authors.

Trevor said: “All the schools contacted so far have been over the moon to be part of this exciting initiative.”

The festival will raise money for mental health charity, The Charlie Waller Memorial Trust. Meanwhile organisations such as Welcome To Yorkshire, Skipton Building Society and Yorkshire Life magazine are lending their support to the festival.

Sir Gary Verity DL, chief executive at Welcome to Yorkshire, said “Yorkshire has a great literary history, with internationally acclaimed writers including the Bronte sisters and many more, so it’s fantastic to hear that Broughton Hall will be playing host to an array of wonderful children’s authors.

“Books play an important part in people’s lives and it’s crucial to encourage reading at a young age.”