Children from Valley Road Academy have helped Sunderland Libraries Services kick off a global reading challenge aimed at getting children across the world to read for a collective 200 million minutes.

The pupils joined in a story telling session at the City Library on World Book Day to help launch the 200 Million Minutes Reading Challenge.

The 26 day challenge is part of a global campaign to eradicate illiteracy and build a brighter future for children and young people.

Running through until Children’s Book Day on 2 April, it will see children throughout the city joining schools, families, libraries, community groups, businesses and organizations from across the world to collectively reach the record breaking target.

The City Library was joined by Houghton Library and Washington Library in hosting story time sessions to celebrate World Book Day and mark the start of the challenge.

Councillor John Kelly, Cabinet Member for Communities and Culture, said: “We’re delighted that children from Valley Road Academy have helped us launch the 200 Million Minutes Reading Challenge on World Book Day.

“Books can bring so much pleasure to children of all ages so challenges like this and events like World Book Day are a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the joy of reading.

“Reading is so important for children in all sorts of ways. Just 10 minutes reading a day makes a huge impact to a child’s development and anything that helps them to develop a love of reading has to be a good thing.

“I have no doubt that children, families, schools and community groups across Sunderland will rise to the challenge and I know libraries are going to be counting up their reading minutes every week to see how they’re doing.”

Children are also being encouraged to pop into the City Library, Washington Town Centre Library or Houghton Library during March to receive a £1 World Book Day voucher which they can swap for one of the TWELVE exclusive, new and completely FREE World Book Day books. Or, if they prefer, they can use the voucher to get £1 off any full price children’s book or audiobook at participating bookstores.

The full list of World Book Day titles and further information regarding World Book Day can be found at

World Book Day book tokens are valid from Thursday 28 February – Sunday 31 March 2019.

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