LOCAL primary school children have taken part in storytelling sessions at Hereford’s Old Market, which were designed to encourage them to read for fun.

265 kids from Broadlands, St Thomas Cantilupe and Withington primary schools had the chance to listen to stories from Luke Winter, a Scottish writer who tours the UK telling stories at schools and book festivals.

They also took part in a range of fun activities including a juice making workshop with Wagamama.

At the end of each event, the children could take home a book of their choice.

Alan Anderson, the centre manager at Old Market, said: “Supporting our community is very important. The children are inspired by the stories and start to get excited about reading and bringing their own books home.”

The events were part of a young readers’ programme sponsored by the owner of Old Market, British Land, and were designed to support children in underprivileged areas by encouraging them to read outside of the classroom.

Since the programme launched at Old Market 12 years ago in partnership with the National Literacy Trust, it has seen more than 6,981 books donated across Hereford.  

Martin Galway, head of school programmes at the trust, said: “The right book, at the right moment, can change a child’s life. That’s what the young readers’ programme has been doing with British Land for the last 12 years – giving children the opportunity to experience storytelling events, and to choose books that speak to their interests and passions.”

Book ownership and access to books are important in promoting enjoyment of reading, but according to National Literacy Trust figures, last year one in 15 children in the UK, and as few as 1 in 10 children on free school meals, did not own any books.

The National Literacy Trust aims to improve the reading and writing skills of communities with low literacy and social mobility. It supports schools in delivering literacy provision and campaigns to make literacy a priority for politicians, businesses and parents.