CHILDREN celebrated the start of a summer of literary fun with the official kick-off of the Summer Reading Challenge at Bradford libraries.

The event, which runs at libraries throughout the district from now until the end of the school summer holidays, will ask children to read six books of their choice over the summer break.

Last year over 4,200 children from Bradford took part, with 600 four to 11-year-olds joining their local library over the summer.

This year the challenge will have the theme of Animal Agents, and kicked off yesterday with two storytelling sessions for local primary school children at City Library and Manningham Library.

The events saw performances of Martin Waddell’s much-loved classic The Owl Babies by Simon Kerrigan and Sian Williams.

Lister Primary, Margaret McMillan Primary and Lilycroft Primary enjoyed the event at Manningham Library along with Lord Mayor of Bradford Councillor Abid Hussain, while Peel Park Primary, Fagley Primary and Frizinghall Primary enjoyed the performance at City Library, in City Park.

The Animal Agents challenge has been illustrated by top-selling children’s illustrator Tony Ross, author and illustrator of the Little Princess series, and follows a detective agency manned by animals. Children who complete it receive a medal and certificate.

Following yesterday’s launch event, there will be over 90 different events in libraries across Bradford to get children involved.

They include a visit from dogs from the Dogs Trust that will teach children how to care for dogs, appearances by “word wizard” Andrew Newbound, who will test children on their animal knowledge, animal art workshops and Zoo Labs, where all manner of exotic animals will be brought into libraries for children to see and touch.

Christinea Donnelly, development officer for Young People at Bradford Libraries, said: “Animal Agents Summer Reading Challenge is a great opportunity for children to continue reading this summer and provides a tool for parents to encourage the reading habit.”

Research shows that children who keep on reading over the long summer break are more likely to maintain their literacy levels. Last year 49 per cent of the children in Bradford who started the Summer Reading Challenge completed all six books.

For the full list of events at different libraries, see or call your local library.