FOOTBALLERS, Miss Oxfordshire and story book characters will be among the star line-up joining children for an Oxfordshire literary festival.

The Reading with the Stars festival aims to tackle low reading ability among youngsters and highlight the importance of reading with children.

It is being hosted on Friday, September 18, from 3pm to 7pm by ARCh (Assisted Reading for Children in Oxfordshire) and is aiming to bring together up to 700 students.

Radio presenter and storybook author Matt Brown will be running workshops about his book Compton Valance.

He said: “Reading and sharing stories is awesome. That is a provable fact. Reading books helps with literacy skills, will take you to places you never thought existed, make you laugh or cry or yell with surprise and will inspire the dreaming of impossible dreams. Helping and encouraging kids who have trouble reading is just about the best way I know how to spend my time.”

The festival will be held at the Kassam Stadium and so far 32 schools across Oxfordshire have reserved places.

The venue will be familiar to one of the stars helping the kids – Oxford United player Alex MacDonald.

Festival organisers want to attract families who normally do not read together by getting other well-known faces to sit down and read with children or give talks, including Miss Oxfordshire Layla Claridge. There will also be stadium tours, book signings, musical entertainment and magic tricks.

Authors taking part in the event include TV presenters Sam and Mark, Teresa Heapy, Cas Lester, Tom Moorhouse, Adam and Charlotte Guillain, Dan Freedman, Griselda Heppel, Shen Roddie, Christopher Lloyd and children’s poet John Foster.

ARCh has been raising money to stage the event since December. The charity recruits, trains and supports volunteers who work one-to-one with children, helping them develop their reading.

ARCh developmental manager Elaine Adams said: “Reading is a key life skill; ARCh’s vision is that all children in Oxfordshire have the necessary literacy skills to equip them for life by the time they leave primary school.

“We are very much looking forward to this special event and delighted to be welcoming famous names from the TV and sports world as well as some top notch children’s authors.”

For more information, call ARch on 01869 320380.