This month, Libraries Unlimited, which runs Okehampton and Tavistock Library, has launched a new reading challenge for children under five to boost their literacy skills and encourage a love of reading. 

The new programme, Libro's Friends, invites young children to visit their local library with parents or carers at least eight times to enjoy a story. After each visit, the children receive a sticker to add to the Libro's Friends sticker book, which they use to find out where Libro the Cat's animal friends are hiding. Each sticker will reveal one of Libro's friends - Marli the mouse, Ollie the owl and Faisal the fox.

Libro is an established character in The Secret Book Quest, a Libraries Unlimited reading challenge for older children, created by the illustrator Emily Fox. Emily is an acclaimed children's book illustrator who has created artwork for the covers of children's classics and a compilation of writing edited by award-winning author Katherine Rundell.

 Sophie Crofts, reading development manager with Libraries Unlimited, said: "We're really excited to be launching this fantastic new programme aimed at developing early reading skills in young children. Almost 7,000 children have so far signed up to read 50 books on The Secret Book Quest, and we are hoping to reach just as many little ones with Libro's Friends. As they go through the adventure, we hope they'll develop an all important love of stories and books, but also a love of their local library where they are free to choose from a wide selection of books to really spark their imaginations. Reading together is of course valuable family bonding time, and will also develop their speech and language skills at a crucial age.

"Books and reading are essential in sparking a child's imagination. It sets them up for life to be able to connect with the wider world around them."

Libro's Friends will be available from April 6, and children can sign up for the challenge at their local library in person.

For further information and full contact details, please visit the Libraries Unlimited web page at