A SCHEME designed to encourage children to read over the summer holidays has had a positive reception in Monmouthshire.

The Summer Reading Challenge, which is delivered by libraries across the UK, tasks youngsters to read six books and attend community hubs or libraries on three occasions.

The initiative is free and to get started children sign up for a folder to contain the special stickers received as each book is completed. Once they have collected all the stickers they can solve the mystery posed by the challenge.

Among the county’s activities arranged in association with the challenge is Chepstow community hub’s Thursday stories & crafts session, which sees up to 20 children attend with parents.

Jenny Hunt ,of Chepstow, brought her children James (5), Nadia (8) and Ted (9) along on August 3 and all three are about to start the Summer Reading Challenge due to their keen interest in reading.

Ted likes the books of C S Lewis and Nadia is a fan of Betty Birney’s Humphrey, the classroom hamster.

Also attending was Carys Pearce with mum Jessica from Tintern. The two enjoy the reading and singing sessions at the community hub as well as the pre-school provision. Carys (4) said she likes to read about princesses.

The reading session, led by community hub staff Sallyanne Powell and Sarah Delahunty, featured Lynley Dodd’s Hairy Maclary, Jonathan Long’s The Dog who could Dig, Dr Xargle’s Book of Earthhounds (Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross) and Daniel Postgate’s Smelly Bill.

Later the children crafted dog masks in line with the Summer Reading Challenge animal agent theme.

Cllr Bob Greenland, cabinet member with responsibility for community hubs said: “Reading can take a back seat during the long summer holidays if children don’t have regular access to books and encouragement to read for pleasure. This can cause problems for schools in the new term but the annual challenge is a highlight of the holiday for many children and can only be beneficial if it inspires them to get stuck into a good book.”

The Summer Reading Challenge also features in community hubs at Caldicot, Abergavenny, Gilwern, Monmouth and Usk. It continues until September 16.

For more call Fiona Ashley on 01633 644906 or email FionaAshley@monmouthshire.gov.uk.