A CHILDREN'S literature festival is being launched in Haworth and Keighley.

Events begin on Monday (May 2) and continue until May 7.

Behind the venture is Christina Gabbitas, who has organised similar festivals in towns including Blackburn, Darwen and Selby.

The initiative includes a 'schools fest' at Keighley Library, next Thursday and Friday, with interactive reading sessions involving pupils from eight schools. The event will be opened by Keighley's town mayor, Councillor Julie Adams. Those present will include author Tom Palmer, Blue Peter Award winner Andy Seed, UNESCO Poetry Day ambassador Dom Conlon and illustrators Liz Million and Ursula Hurst. Each child attending will receive a token for a free copy of Nutty Nonsense, by poet Colin West.

Christina said the festival aimed to give children and families from all backgrounds "an equal opportunity" to access books and a literature event.

She added: "There are over 350 literature festivals in the UK, with less than ten per cent solely dedicated to children.

"My mum used to take us to the library. I think libraries are essential, that’s why I like to use them as a focal point."

Patron of the festival is actress Jenny Agutter and activities begin on Monday with a Railway Children walk.

The route takes in many of the locations from the classic 1970 film version of Edith Nesbit's timeless tale, which starred Ms Agutter.

Funds raised through the walk are going to Childline and towards future children's literature festivals.

On the Wednesday, read-aloud interactive sessions with primary schools are being held at Haworth's West Lane Baptist Church.

And next Thursday, following the schools session at Keighley Library, people can enjoy an Evening with Michael Bradley, of the Northern Irish pop punk band The Undertones – and author of Teenage Kicks: My Life As An Undertone.

On May 7, a free communities day – featuring authors and illustrators – is being held.

The festival includes a competition for youngsters aged 7-16 to write a poem about the area where they live.

Ms Agutter said: "I’m delighted that all these wonderful events are taking place.

"The Railway Children Walk takes you to lovely locations we used in the film. I have such fond memories of these places. It's a wonderful way to support the Haworth and Keighley Children’s Literature Festival and Childline. I’m sure E Nesbit would love the idea of encouraging children to enjoy books."

For full details about the festival, visit childrensliteraturefestivals.com.