BOOKWORMS across Oxfordshire will unite today for a six-hour readathon.

The event has been organised by charity Assisted Reading for Children, ARCh, which places volunteers in 100 county primary schools to read with children.

Children’s authors and politicians are among those who have signed up to take turns reading at Oxford Central Library, in the Westgate Centre, today.

The event has been organised by mum of two and ARCh volunteer Vikki Evans.

She said: “We hope the day will help us to raise funds for our vital work in schools, but more importantly, we hope it will encourage adults to read with their children at home.

“Reading with children is so important.

“It increases their vocabulary, sparks their imagination, gives them valuable one-to-one time with grown-ups, and, probably most importantly, it is a springboard towards helping them read themselves.

“If the Readathon inspires just one adult to pick up a book and read it with a child, then it will have been worth it.”

Performance poet John Foster and children’s author Shen Roddie will both take turns reading, as will Oxfordshire County Council chief executive Joanna Simons, council leader Ian Hudspeth and Oxford West and Abingdon MP Nicola Blackwood.

Mrs Evans said: “ARCh supports any initiative which encourages children to gain a love of reading and we are pleased that our event is running while there is so much enthusiasm generated by the Oxfordshire Reading Campaign.”

Oxford-based illustrator and ARCh patron Korky Paul has created an original sketch of Winnie the Witch reading an ARCh book to be auctioned to raise funds for the charity.

The readathon is the first of its kind, and will run from 10am to 4pm.

ARCh development manager Jane Rendle said: “We are always looking for more volunteers to read in primary schools and encourage a love of reading which we hope will last a lifetime.

“We are terribly excited about it and hopefully it will lead to more volunteers getting involved in ARCh.”

She expressed her backing for the Oxford Mail-backed Oxfordshire Reading Campaign – and said she hoped ultimately it could lead to more people joining the charity as volunteers.

She said: “Anything that improves children’s reading is a very positive thing.

“The reading campaign is obviously different to what we are doing because it's focusing on children of a certain age.

“After the 10 weeks of the reading campaign volunteer programme, we hope some of the volunteers will come to us because we are in it for the long term.”