A QUEST has been launched by a Hampshire shopping centre find a young reading hero who has gone above and beyond to inspire others to read books.

Whiteley Shopping Centre has launched an initiative as part of the Young Readers’ Programme, a partnership between its co-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.

Parents, guardians, teachers, families and friends are being asked to nominate a child who they think has used reading to positively benefit others.

The winner will be chosen by a judging panel made up of representatives from British Land, Whiteley and the National Literacy Trust.

A literary-themed prize will be awarded to the winner, including £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 be made via Whiteley’s website until Monday, July 17 where adults can submit an entry describing why their nominee deserves to win.

As part of the Young Readers’ Programme, schoolchildren from Wallisdean Infant School and St Colomba CofE Primary Academy have taken part in a series of literacy-focused events.

It culminated in a trip to Whiteley Shopping Centre where pupils were treated to an animated storytelling session and fun.

The schools were also given £100 WHSmith vouchers to buy new books for their libraries.

Neil Carter, centre manager at Whiteley, said: “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’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: “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 Southampton. We’re thrilled to be bringing the programme to Whiteley for the first time as well as supporting the search for Southampton’s inspirational young reading hero.”