Clare Balding heads the line-up for the first Broughton Hall Children’s Literature Festival

Broughton Hall Childrens Literature Festival

Broughton Hall Childrens Literature Festival - Credit: Archant

Schools look forward to taking part in a new children’s literature festival. Robert Beaumont reports

Chris White, writer, poet and cartoonist

Chris White, writer, poet and cartoonist - Credit: Archant

Some of the country’s leading children’s authors will be visiting schools in Yorkshire as part of a new festival aimed at inspiring young readers. Altogether more than 200 schools and 40,000 children in the Skipton and Craven district will be involved.

Broadcaster Clare Balding heads the line-up for the first Broughton Hall Children’s Literature Festival. She joins more than 65 authors, poets, illustrators, storytellers and animators at the festival, including Sir Chris Hoy and M G Leonard.

The festival, which runs from Thursday, September 27th to Sunday, September 30th, is the brainchild of Trevor Wilson, the managing director of Authors Abroad, a leading organiser of authors’ visits to schools across the world. It fulfils his life-long dream of bringing some of the biggest names in children’s literature to the idyllic setting of Broughton Hall, home of the Tempest family since the 11th century.

He stressed that a central theme of the festival was to involve the 200 schools in the Skipton and Craven region, covering both North and West Yorkshire.

Donovan, performance poet

Donovan, performance poet - Credit: Archant

‘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 or her story published in a “proper book” thus making them real authors,’ he adds.

Two of the schools taking part are St Joseph’s Primary School in Keighley and Moorfield School in Ilkley. Donovan, a performance poet and Chris White, writer, poet and cartoonist visit St Joseph’s and Moorfield respectively.

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Jessica Crossley, head teacher of Moorfield School, said she was doing everything she could to encourage pupils to get involved. ‘Each class is creating a big 3D book character of their choice,’ she says. ‘The children have decided on who they will create and how they will construct it. Many of the characters are chosen from books read together in class. We hope that these will be displayed at Broughton Hall over the festival. We hope there will be a buzz about books, authors and reading created through this festival.

‘Children who read have a wider experience of life; they have travelled places, met people, observed the roller-coaster of relationships all within the pages of a book. Books take us out of ourselves and into another place as we turn the pages.

‘As social media tries to encroach into every waking moment, taking a break with a well written story must surely give the respite that soothes and calms, giving us a break from the constant hurly burly. Developing a love of literature is one of the greatest gifts we can give a child.’

Organisers say one of the driving forces behind the festival is the belief that the enjoyment of reading fosters good mental health for children and so all proceeds from the festival are going to the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, one of the leading UK mental health charities.

Jenny McGuinness of St Joseph’s Primary School, says she believes there is a link between reading and good mental health and adds: ‘Being able to escape into a book is invaluable for children. All our classrooms have quiet reading areas. We promote reading by having well-stocked classrooms and a library.

‘We run a book swap scheme for children who want to share books with others. We often give new books as prizes in Assembly. Our staff promote reading to children as a fun, enjoyable activity. We have story time sessions each Friday in our TV studio and each session is on the school website so children can watch again at home.

‘Stories are read by the children and staff throughout the year. Staff share their own love of reading with the children and we talk about how reading can be relaxing and fun. The festival is a brilliant idea and we are really looking forward to it. We need more events like this for local children. We need events to stir children’s imaginations and for them to have activities to look forward to,’ she adds.

For further details, please contact Trevor Wilson at or on 01535 656015 ext 9855 or 07885 279519 or visit