HUNDREDS of schoolchildren from across Oxfordshire took part in a one-off literacy event at the Kassam Stadium yesterday.

The Reading with the Stars festival, organised by Oxfordshire charity ARCh (Assisted Reading for Children), saw 300 primary school-age youngsters take part in activities, workshops and talks to promote reading and boost the county’s literacy levels.

Jane Rendle, development manager at ARCh, said: “It has been non-stop, but everyone is happy and enthusiastic. We have included authors, celebrities and role models who children would really relate to, like footballers from Oxford United. We wanted to target children and families who don’t normally go to literary festivals.”

Among the guests were Heart Oxfordshire radio DJ Matt Brown, whose book The Most Powerful Boy in the Universe is on the shortlist for the Oxfordshire Children’s Book Award 2015, authors Adam and Charlotte Guillain, who put on a puppet performance, and Oxford University zoologist Tom Moorhouse.

Bafta-winning CBBC television presenters Sam Nixon and Mark Rhodes, known as Sam and Mark, met youngsters to talk about their debut children’s book, The Adventures of Long Arm. Every child was given a free copy of the book.

Mr Rhodes said: “Things are going really well. There is a lot of children here and also a lot of books. Pull them together and you’ve got a winning combination.

“I wish I’d had events like this as a kid. Even now I’m not the most confident when it comes to reading aloud. If it inspires you to pick up a book and start reading, that’s great.”

About 200 children attended from the Blackbird Academy Trust (BAT), which runs Orchard Meadow, Windale and Pegasus primary schools in Blackbird Leys.

BAT spokeswoman Lottie White said: “We took three children from each school to a book launch recently and they wanted to meet children from the other schools more.

“It’s nice for them to do that in a calming environment, surrounded by books.”

Year Six pupil Karen Fernandes Pauscar, 10, of East Oxford Primary School, said: “I like it here and I like reading.”

Fellow pupil Alexia El-Dabi, also 10, said: “I like reading Jacqueline Wilson’s books and diaries.

“Meeting Sam and Mark was a shock for me.”