Blackburn and Darwen Children’s Literature Festival came back for its fifth year and has been hailed a huge success.

Blackburn author Christina Gabbitas delivered the week long children’s literature festival in libraries week in partnership with the team at Blackburn with Darwen Libraries.

The festival saw 4,000 children and families across the borough and thousands of books were gifted to the young book worms.

Lancashire Telegraph:  Blackburn and Darwen Children’s Literature Festival Blackburn and Darwen Children’s Literature Festival (Image: Christina Gabbitas)

The Coronation Champion and recent winner of a Prime Minister's award, Christina said: “What an amazing week we had spreading the positivity of reading with sessions in all Blackburn with Darwen Libraries celebrating Libraries Week.

“I wanted to say a huge thank you to all the staff in the libraries, and to all teachers, parents and carers for their enthusiasm and support for the weeks events.

“A special thank you to the Mayor Councillor Akhtar and his Consort Mrs Akhtar, who attended many of the events in support. Our focus was spreading kindness, with a strong emphasis on looking after our environment for Green Libraries Week.”

The week started with sessions in Cherry Tree, Mill Hill and Roman Road.

Salma Zaman, whose speciality is engaging with SEND sessions, visited schools with her stories, and Louie Stowell, the author and illustrator of the Loki series, staged events in Darwen Library Theatre.

Lancashire Telegraph: Christina Gabbitas and Ursula Hurst Christina Gabbitas and Ursula Hurst (Image: Christina Gabbitas)

Illustrator and author Ursula Hurst delivered sessions with her prize-winning story ‘Drawing Hope’, and Christina delivered sessions about plastic pollution and the environment with her story and poem Save Us From Plastic in Darwen Library.

Christina was also joined by Darwen resident and British Sign Language tutor Danielle Tudor, who taught the children to sign the first line of Christina’s poem Kindness to help coincide with National Poetry Day.

Three sessions were held in Blackburn Central Library with African rapping peace poet, Donvan Christopher, author Ben Davis, illustrator Ian Morris, illustrator Zehra Hicks, Andy Seed, Hafiza Issa, and Oli Sykes in attendance.

Oli Sykes also staged two performances of Alfie’s First Fight in the Hornby Theatre in Blackburn Library which was funded by Spot On Lancashire.

Libraries manager Adele Karwatt said: “We are absolutely thrilled and encouraged by the whole week of events; this has been our most successful yet.

"The Arts Council funding enabled us to reach out further into the borough with transport costs etc.

“We are very grateful for the continued support and partnership with our patron of Blackburn with Darwen Libraries Christina Gabbitas, to which none of these festivals would happen without her drive, initiative, and passion. “

Patron of Children’s Literature Festivals, actress Jenny Agutter, said: “What a wonderful week of events for the children to experience.

"Christina and her team once again delivered a hugely successful festival with a strong emphasis on spreading kindness too.

“Congratulations to all who helped to make it happen.”