An exciting stage show in front of an audience of more than 500 school children marked the launch of the annual Doncaster Book Award.
Youngsters from 12 primary and seven secondary schools packed into the Cast theatre on Tuesday to watch live performances from authors, artists and entertainers.
The popular scheme, which aims to boost children’s reading ability through fun activities throughout the academic year, is celebrating its 11th anniversary.
Mum-of-two Lyn Hopson, of Scawsby, who is secretary of Doncaster Book Awards, said: “The children always have a fabulous time at the launch event and this year was no exception.
“We aim to improve reading skills by making it enjoyable and by bringing stories and literature to life.
“There will be a whole host of fun events for the kids to get stuck into in the coming year.”
At the launch, James Worthington, of the Retford-based Talegate Theatre Company, gave a colourful account of what children can expect from the project before author Liz Million intrigued the audience with live drawing on stage.
Then, Phil Sheppard introduced his new children’s book ‘Discover Doncaster’, which is also the theme of this year’s award.
Award organisers have compiled a shortlist of 27 books - all with a Doncaster-related theme - which school children will be encouraged to read.
Those on the shortlist include ‘The Railway Children’, which pays homage to the town’s rail heritage, ‘Remembrance’ - a nod to the role town soldiers played in the First World War - and the story of Robin Hood, who some historians claim lived in Doncaster.
There will be a long lists of events to support the scheme, which will see illustrators, writers and children’s performers visit schools for workshops based around the books on the shortlist.
Youngsters are encouraged to vote for their favourite book and an award will then be presented to the winning author in spring next year.
The project was launched more than a decade ago by a group of librarians who wanted to do more to encourage youngsters to get involved in reading.
Mrs Hopson said: “The scheme has been a huge success this last decade and we have seen an improvement in children’s reading skills as a result.
“We knew that we could make a difference and it is great to see so many children having fun while learning at the same time.
“We are sure they will find this year’s theme very interesting as it focuses on their hometown.”
It is funded by the Big Lottery Fund and the Coalfields Regeneration Trust.
For more information about the scheme visit www.doncasterbookaward.net/