A SUMMER reading challenge that encourages children to make use of their local library during their break from school has been launched.

The annual challenge, organised by Darlington libraries, is aimed at children aged between four and 11, who are asked to make at least three visits to the Crown Street Library, Cockerton Library or the mobile library during the six weeks holiday.

Children will receive a reward each time they make a visit, including stickers for their first trip and a voucher for a free swim or a free play in the Under the Sea soft play at the Dolphin Centre for their second visit.

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On the third visit, the children will earn a certificate along with a pack of loom bands or a lucky dip prize. The third visit will also enter each child into a prize draw to win a bike or a family trip to the theatre.

There will also be a number of free events held in the libraries throughout the holidays, including a creative writing group, sports activities and a seaside themed day, as well as events featuring local author Liz Million and Jays Animal Encounters.

Councillor Cyndi Hughes, Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet member for children and young people, said: “The summer reading challenge is a fantastic opportunity to encourage young children to read more.

“Reading books helps to develop imaginations and brings out the creative side of children. “We all should make use of our local library – they are free and provide a great source of learning and enjoyment.”