Halton Lea Library in Runcorn was one of only 20 libraries receiving funding to host an exciting all-day event to help children read for pleasure.

Those attending the event last week met authors Tọlá Okogwu and Louie Stowell and could exchange a World Book Day £1 token for a £1 book – for free!

A partnership project between the charity and UK libraries, and funded by Arts Council England through its National Lottery Project Grants programme, the event gave local school children the opportunity to discover a love of books and reading ahead of the charity’s annual celebration on Thursday, 7 March.

The children met two of this year’s World Book Day £1 authors, Tọlá Okogwu, author of Onyeka and the Secret Superhero*, and Louie Stowell, author of Loki: Tales of a Bad God. They also enjoyed workshops, readings and games. Some of the children, along with the authors, were interviewed and filmed by Sky News for their Sky Kids News programme.

Halton Lea Library also received 1,200 free books (100 copies of the World Book Day £1/€1.50 books donated by their respective publishers), enabling the library to become an exchange hub during the token redemption period (15 February – 31 March) so that children can exchange their £1 World Book Day book token for a £1 book of their choice.

The event was part of the charity’s mission to improve children’s access to books and provide them with opportunities to develop a lifelong habit of reading for pleasure. Reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator of a child’s future success – more than family circumstances, parents’ educational background and their income – but research from National Literacy Trust found that fewer than 1 in 2 (47.8%) children now say they enjoy reading, the lowest level since 2005.

Halton Lea Library will also receive further funding to host a follow-up event in between April and July, to encourage children to continue visiting the library and discover a love of reading.

Emma Boone, Children and Families Development Officer at Halton Libraries, said: “We are extremely privileged to be selected as one of the 20 libraries to receive funding to host a fun-filled event for our local children. We’re hopeful that this event will be a catalyst for long-term engagement and that we see a number of the school children return to our library with a new-found love of books and reading.”

Tọlá Okogwu, author of Onyeka and the Secret Superhero, comments: “Libraries are such an important resource and as a child were one of my favourite places to visit. Indeed, both my daughters have had library cards since they were six months old and our weekly visits are a great source of fun. I’m beyond excited to be part of this event and look forward to engaging with readers to help kickstart a love of reading.”

 Visit www.worldbookday.com for more information and don’t forget to Read Your Way this World Book Day!