A look ahead to the 2019 Blackburn Children’s Literature Festival

(c) Getty Images/iStockphoto/yuelan

(c) Getty Images/iStockphoto/yuelan - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Well known figures from the arts world are backing the second children’s literature festival planned for Blackburn in June.

A festival with the mission of giving children and families from all backgrounds a better opportunity to read books is making a welcome return this month.

The first Blackburn Children's Literature Festival was held last year after being set up by locally-born author Christina Gabbitas.

'There are currently more than 350 literature festivals in the UK, but fewer than ten per cent are centered on children,' said Christina. 'We would like more emphasis on encouraging children, with an increased number of dedicated children's festivals helping to bring communities together and to impress on parents the importance of books and reading, not just educationally but socially and emotionally.'

The 2019 festival will span four days with a 'Families and Communities Day' on Saturday, June 22 at King George's Hall in Blackburn between 10am and 4pm. Children will be given free read aloud interactive sessions from a diverse range of artists, including an African rapping poet called Donovan Christopher, Bollywood dance teacher and author, Salma Zaman, and illustrator and Blue Peter Book Award winner, Andy Seed.

They will be joined by Christina, who is also an award winner, and author Hilary Robinson who has penned over 50 books and produces the BBC Sunday Morning Programme.

Christina will be teaming up the Ribble Rivers Trust to stage sessions from her 'Save Us' book which addresses plastic pollution. 'It's great to have the support from the Trust,' she said.

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Local company Blackburn Chemicals is also pledging to help and Phil Lamb from their charitable foundation said: 'We are proud to help support the festival. We think that events like this are so important and add so much more to the town. It's a great way to help bring communities together.'

Last year, children at schools throughout Blackburn with Darwen were invited to attend the festival and more than 1,200 of them received free books. Events took place in a variety of venues including Blackburn Cathedral, Blackburn Market, The Mall and the library. This year the venues will be Blackburn Library and Blackburn University and Museum.

Christina set up a poetry initiative with the Ribble Rivers Trust that was launched in February to encourage children to write about the importance of looking after the environment. She said: 'This is the perfect way to encourage children to learn more about our environment and the damage that we are causing.

'We are pleased to have actress Jenny Agutter and Michael Bradley, of The Undertones, as patrons of Children's Literature Festivals which now has full charitable status.'

The week's events start with 'An Evening With The Artists' when Michael Bradley will be talking about his life as a musician. This will be held in Liz 'n Lil's tea rooms on Northgate on Tuesday June 18.

For tickets and further information call 0785 2804999.

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