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Local children get up close with animals in national reading challenge

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Children from across the borough have gotten up close with a variety of animals as part of the Summer Reading Challenge, the national initiative by The Reading Agency.

That’s because there’s something fishy going on at local libraries with this year’s theme ‘Animal Agents’, and there’s a mystery that must be solved by young readers.

The young detectives will read any six books over the summer holiday and receive stickers and clues for each one they finish when they visit a library, helping the Animal Agents to crack the case.

As part of the exciting local library offer, children have met a host of animals and curious creatures at library events.

Earlier this week Bert the ‘Pets as Therapy’ dog helped children to relax with their reading at Chester Lane Library, while young readers at Eccleston Library encountered and learned about some slightly less cute, but no less wonderful creatures, including snakes, scorpions, spiders, rats and giant snails provided by ‘ZooLab’, with stories told about each animal.

Sue Williamson, Head of Library Services, said: “The summer holiday is normally a time when children’s reading dips, which is something we want to address. The Summer Reading Challenge is a great way to do that. Our libraries are once again doing fantastic work to bring the national programme into St Helens with events like these, and I hope many more young readers come along and join in before school starts again.”

Councillor Sue Murphy, Cabinet Member for Leisure Services and Libraries, said: “Every year, thousands of families all over the country take part in the UK’s biggest reading event for children in libraries, and we’re doing our part here in St Helens’ libraries. Our programme has seen some great activities, like animal and author visits, to inspire and encourage children’s reading.

“Many of the books we read as children stay with us throughout our lives. The Summer Reading Challenge is a wonderful way of creating these lasting memories, and keeping boredom at bay during the school break.”

Children can still get involved in the free Summer Reading Challenge at local libraries until Saturday 9 September. To take part in Animal Agents, all children need to do is to head to their local library where they will be given a collector folder to keep a record of their reading journey.

At the end of the programme, certificates and medals will be presented to participating children by Mayor of St Helens, Councillor Joe Pearson. Children that complete the challenge will be entered into a fantastic prize draw that includes a VIP experience package to Knowsley Safari Park and a copy of Mr Stink signed by the ever popular David Walliams, plus much more!

The Summer Reading Challenge’s Animal Agents characters are drawn by popular British children’s illustrator Tony Ross, best known for illustrating the Horrid Henry series by Francesca Simon.

The library service has also supported the council’s ongoing Food in School Holidays initiative, with healthy snack bags given out to those families who receive free school meals in term time.

For more information visit summerreadingchallenge.org.uk or ask in your local library.

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