A children's author is giving 50 primary schools free books to mark World Book Day and the imminent return to classrooms.

Blackburn's Christina Gabbitas, in partnership with Blackburn BID, will gift two of her own books to primary schools within the borough during an online event for World Book Day on Thursday.

Ms Gabbitas will also be joining sports presenter and author Clare Balding for the event, which will be live-streamed on digital reading platform and app, Fonetti.

Christina Gabbitas joins Clare Balding for World Book Day event

Christina Gabbitas joins Clare Balding for World Book Day event

Christina said “I am thrilled to be taking part in the World Book Day event with Claire Balding, that will give children, teachers and families free read-aloud sessions.

"To take part in an event, gifting the schools the free books and having the opportunity for all Blackburn schools to access my stories through Fonetti on their reading platform, is a great way to promote reading.”

Fonetti, approved by the Department for Education, is a children’s reading platform and app, which is being used extensively in schools and at home.

It allows children to practise their reading skills and improve their literacy and language skills, by listening to them as they read aloud in real time, tracking their progress in terms of time read and accuracy.

School parent portals also allow teaching staff to monitor their pupil’s progress via the app.

Christina Gabbitas and World Book Day

Christina Gabbitas and World Book Day

Founder and CEO of Fonetti, Kim Antoniou, said: “Literacy is the cornerstone of every child’s life.

"Without it, children (and adults) are held back at every stage.

"The ability to read is a vital life skill and the Fonetti app aims to promote reading, particularly reading aloud, and language skills to children from four to nine years of age.

“We are therefore absolutely delighted to welcome Christina to our family of published authors and especially her passion and mission to improve children’s literacy, which exactly matches our own.”

Ms Gabbitas' stories promote learning with fun, and all books have an educational element, some of which include plastic pollution, teamwork, history and safeguarding.

Ms Gabbitas added: “I am thrilled to be working with Fonetti and see it as a wonderful way in which to reach out to children everywhere.

“I started writing after having my own children and particularly focussed on stories which would help them overcome their fears.

"It is my hope that other children can take comfort from them too and Fonetti is a terrific platform from which to do it.”

The books, Believe in the Magic of Blackburn and Mohna Lott (which addresses the spirit of kindness and is illustrated by Lancashire’s Ursula Hurst), will be available via Fonetti from March 4.

The World Book Day event will take place from 1.45pm to 2.45pm, also on Fonetti.