Teesside has launched a quest to find and reward a young reading hero from Stockton-on-Tees who has gone above and beyond to inspire or help others through books.

Parents, guardians, teachers, families and friends in Stockton-on-Tees are being asked to nominate a child under the age of 11 who they think has used reading to positively benefit others.

Teesside has launched the initiative as part of the Young Readers Programme, a partnership between its owner, British Land, and the National Literacy Trust. The programme is designed to encourage children aged 11 and under to read for enjoyment in their spare time.

The winner will be chosen by a judging panel made up of representatives from British Land, Teesside and the National Literacy Trust. A literary-themed prize will be awarded to the winner which will include £100 of National Book Tokens for their school, £50 of National Book Tokens for themselves, plus a copy of ‘My Brother is a Superhero’ by David Solomons – winner of Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2016.

Nominations can now be made via Teesside’s website where adults can submit an entry describing why their nominee deserves to win.

The Young Readers Programme, now in its fifth year at Teesside saw schoolchildren from Berwick Hills Primary School, Mandale Mill Primary School and Tilery Primary School take part in a series of literacy-focused events. This culminated in a trip to Teesside where pupils were treated to an animated storytelling session and fun, educational activities with staff from Hobbycraft, WH Smith, Nandos and Pizza Express. The schools were also given £100 of WHSmith vouchers to purchase new books for their libraries.

Mike Clarke, Centre Director at Teesside, said: “Supporting the local community is something we’re passionate about. The Young Readers Programme is a wonderful initiative that has a real, positive impact on encouraging local schoolchildren to read for enjoyment outside of the classroom.

“We thoroughly enjoyed hosting the storytelling event this year and we’re excited about launching the Reading Heroes competition – I’m sure we’ll see some very worthy nominations!”

Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust, said: “We know that reading for pleasure is one of the most effective ways to help children reach their full potential. Our research shows that children who enjoy reading every day outside school are five times more likely to read above the expected level for their age than those who don’t. With the support of British Land and its shopping centres and retailers across the UK, our Young Readers Programme has helped more than 19,000 children choose books to enjoy and keep. For many, these were the first books they had ever owned.

“Literacy underpins the long-term wellbeing and prosperity of every community, so encouraging children to read for enjoyment is an important step towards boosting literacy levels in Stockton-on-Tees. We’re thrilled to be bringing the programme to Teesside once again as well as supporting the search for Stockton-on-Tees’s inspirational young Reading Hero.”