THE county’s libraries are looking for volunteers to encourage children to read over the summer holidays.

Oxfordshire County Council needs as many helpers as possible to support the Summer Reading Challenge – a scheme that encourages children to read six books during the school break.

The challenge runs alongside an Oxford Mail-backed scheme to boost reading standards by Oxfordshire County Council that is being run by the National Literacy Trust.

Children who join the challenge will be supported by their library and all who complete it will receive a reward.

Last year’s challenge was Olympic-themed and children received a gold medal on completion.

Volunteer Louise Castle took part in the challenge and continues to help at Wantage Library’s events.

The 32-year-old from East Hendred said: “I fancied doing something that is helpful to other people and I loved it.

“For the summer reading challenge, you spend time in the library when the kids are going to be coming in during the day and talking to people about it.

“People definitely need to give it a go. You will find it really rewarding.”

Summer Reading Challenge volunteers will help promote the service and listen to children talking about the books they have read, hand out rewards and help children to choose their next books.

Volunteers are needed to help at all of the county’s 43 libraries and the number of helpers at each library will vary depending on the branch.

They should be able to commit a minimum of one or two hours a week during the challenge, which runs from July 13 to September 14, but libraries are flexible with holidays.

Marcus Mabberley, county council spokesman, said: “As well as being fun and enjoyable the Summer Reading Campaign plays a vital role in maintaining children’s literacy levels during the summer.

“This year’s theme is ‘Creepy House’, which should have great appeal and is accompanied by some brilliant illustrations and rewards designed by the popular illustrator Chris Riddell.

“The volunteers play a huge part in promoting reading for enjoyment and pleasure and the children benefit from having a dedicated person who is there to listen to them talk about the books they have read.”

Potential volunteers can find out more by visiting their local library.

THE STORY SO FAR The Oxfordshire Reading Campaign was launched in September by Oxfordshire County Council to address poor test results in county schools.

The scheme is run by the National Literacy Trust and backed by the Oxford Mail, and includes targeted reading interventions aimed at boosting reading skills for seven-year-olds, plus a volunteer reading scheme to foster a love of reading. Children involved will work in small groups with trained teaching assistants on the Project X Code books, designed to improve phonetics and comprehension skills, and will also read one-to-one with volunteers.

In all, 54 schools across the county are taking part, and around 30 volunteers have been recruited and trained.