I LOVE reading. A good part of my childhood on the farm was spent with a book, and it was no surprise to anyone when I read English at university.

Escaping into the worlds created by some of my favourite authors including Noel Streatfeild, Tolkien and 'BB' (Denys Watkins-Pitchford) fed my imagination and fuelled my desire to read more.

Adulthood hasn’t dampened that feeling; I often find sitting down with a good detective novel to be a welcome distraction at the end of a long day at Westminster, and some of my favourite memories from when my children were younger are from when we read to them.

The summer break gives me the perfect opportunity to tackle Anthony Trollope’s Phineas Finn, which I have been looking forward to.

I’m sure I won’t be the only one to make the most of having some time to read over the holidays.

A few weeks ago I went along to the launch of the Summer Reading Challenge, an initiative run by national charity The Reading Agency.

Aimed at children aged four to 11, the challenge encourages them to read at least six books over the summer to keep up their reading skills and confidence.

Ten years ago I ran a children’s book club in the village hall, open to all, but particularly targeted at nine-year-old boys.

They loved it, and always amazed me by their ability to tackle difficult concepts and language if they were interested in the theme.

The Summer Reading Challenge also has a theme – this year’s is ‘Mischief Makers’, to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Beano comic book series.

Libraries in Banbury, Bicester and Adderbury are all taking part, running a variety of free activities throughout the holidays.

And when schools return in September, Assisted Reading for Children (ARCh Oxfordshire) will continue their inspirational work in primary schools across the county.

The charity, which is based in Bicester, encourages those four-to-11-year-olds who need some extra support to boost their confidence through reading, games, drawing and writing their own short stories.

Children have two individual 30-minute sessions every week during term-time and in school hours.

Run entirely by volunteers, they are always looking for more people to work with them to ensure that every child can start to think of reading as something they can enjoy.

For more information on ARCh visit online to archoxfordshire.org.uk or for more details on the Summer Reading Challenge go online to summerreadingchallenge.org.uk and oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/event-categories/libraries