EAGER readers are set to celebrate World Book Day with a range of literary events in Oxford today.

A series of fancy-dress parades, one-off exhibitions and storytelling sessions will mark the day which aims to inspire readers old and young.

The Bodleian Library is holding a series of events including a one-day display, a lunchtime talk and a book launch dedicated to Jane Austen.

A decorative cross-stitch sampler made by the author at the age of 10 or 11 will be exhibited for the first time, along with a newly-discovered portrait. The portrait is thought to depict the author and has sparked scholarly debate and a BBC documentary into its authenticity.

There are just two recognised portraits of Austen, one sketched by her sister Cassandra in 1810, and so the discovery is an exciting insight into the author’s life.

Fans of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility will also be able to view copies of the books and manuscripts from the Bodleian collections and a hand-written manuscript of The Watsons.

Exhibition curator Stephen Hebron, said: “People will be able to see first editions of Jane Austen’s works.

“It’s a rare chance to see things that you wouldn’t otherwise see.”

Pupils at Headington School will be vying to impress children’s author Julie Hearn who is spending today at their school and will be judging a literary fancy-dress contest. The Oxfordshire author will also be giving talks about her work to the students.

Barefoot Books in Banbury Road, Summertown, will also be sharing World Book Day with school children from Northern House School, Summertown.

Groups of pupils will be making the short journey from South Parade to the Banbury Road shop to take part in storytelling workshops and book-inspired art sessions.

This evening the shop will be holding a fundraising event for the charity Reading Quest which aims to improve child literacy in Oxford.

Readers are invited to drop in for gingerbread and coffee and are asked to donate good quality picture books to the charity.

The shop is also donating up to 50 per cent of the profits from book sales tonight and on selected books on its website for the next week to the charity.

New College School pupils will be dressing up as characters from books and visiting Waterstone’s on Broad Street, while at Rye St Antony School in Headington children will be embarking on a three-week sponsored readathon.

A Lively Library Competition will be held at lunchtime in the library at Larkmead School, Abingdon, while at Wheatley Park School a Drop Everything and Read session will help pupils mark World Book Day.

Meanwhile, Bill Heine will be giving a World Book Day talk about his book The Hunting of The Shark.

He will be signing copies at the O3 Gallery, at Oxford Castle, at 6.30pm.