LIBRARIES SERVICES STAFF supported by volunteers will be warming up in the Family Zone inside the Stadium of Light before the derby match this Saturday, to help kick-off the latest leg in a regional public library and literacy project.

Sunderland City Council is supporting Read North East, the campaign from the North East Literacy Forum, led by the National Literacy Trust, to host a free children’s book giveaway at the derby match between Sunderland AFC and Middlesbrough this weekend.

Families attending the game will be able to visit the Family Zone between 12 – 3pm where they can chose from a variety of books donated by publishers Penguin Random House to take home and keep.

The Read North East campaign aims to improve literacy levels across the region and encourage children and families to share stories together. At the corresponding fixture earlier in the season, Read North East volunteers have given away a total of 300 books at Middlesbrough’s Riverside stadium.

Sunderland City Council Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture, Councillor John Kelly said: “This is an excellent idea, using very popular sporting venues where the crowds are guaranteed to give larger numbers of people the chance to take-up the offer of free children’s books provided by the Read North East campaign to take home with them after the match.

“We want to encourage more children and their families to read together, so this is an opportunity for children to begin their own collection at home which they can enjoy reading and re-reading for many years to come.

“It’s also a chance to take Library Services into the community and inspire people to join the library so that they can access more books including online.”

Councillor Kelly added: “I’d like to thank all of the partners and of course our community partners at the football clubs involved.”

The National Literacy Trust’s Head of Community Campaigns and Programmes Clare Argar said: “We’re thrilled to have this opportunity to give away more books to young football fans at the game this weekend.

“ Harnessing the excitement of a big match like this is a great way to motivate young people to improve their literacy skills. We hope lots of North East families get the chance to enjoy reading a story together on Saturday.”