Cas inspires youngsters to take up Beano-inspired reading challenge

She used to make children TV shows like Tracy Beaker, now Oxford author Cas Lester is helping to inspire thousands of youngsters to take part in Oxfordshire County Council’s summer reading challenge.

Excited children, mums and dads packed in to the County Library in central Oxford on the first day of the challenge to witness Cas – who also used to produce Jackanory for the BBC ­­– bring to life Nixie the Bad Fairy and magician Wilfred the Unwise.

The mum of four’s lively and magical session of stories coupled with some crafts prompted several members of the audience to sign up for the Beano-inspired Mischief Makers: Summer Reading Challenge.

Cas, who is patron of reading at the city’s Sandhills Community School and runs a Kids’ Book Club on BBC Radio Oxford, said: “I used to have a great deal of fun making children's TV dramas for CBBC, like The Story of Tracy Beaker. Now I'm having fun writing children's books.”

The challenge, which features favourites Dennis and his pet dog Gnasher, aims to get Oxfordshire schoolchildren to ‘break all the rules’ and read six books during the summer holidays.

Last year 8,281 children aged between four and 11 took part and discovered the joy of reading. This summer’s event promises to be even more fun for the whole family.

Children can explore a map of Beanotown to find a hidden treasure chest full of pranks and become ultimate mischief makers. As they read will receive special stickers, some with mysterious smells. By adding these stickers to their map, young readers will help Dennis, Gnasher and friends solve clues and discover the treasure, having lots of fun and adventures along the way.

To join in  the fun all children need to do is sign up at one of the count’s 43 libraries where they will be given a colourful collector’s map of Beanotown to keep a record of their Summer Reading Challenge journey.

Mischief Makers, which is supported by The Reading Agency and Beano, will run until September 15.

Jo Morris, Oxfordshire County Council’s Lead Librarian for Reading Health & Culture, said: “The summer break is a great opportunity for children to discover the joy of reading, have fun and boost their life skills and chances. Our libraries play a crucial part in our thriving communities.”

Visit http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/mischiefmakers to find out how to take part.