Author and illustrator Liz Million inspires Sunderland children to read as part of Summer Reading Challenge
Author and artist Liz Million has been working with children across the city to highlight the importance of reading and to hopefully inspire a new generation of illustrators.
Using the Wild World Heroes theme, children learnt how to bring animal characters such as hedgehogs, rabbits and snakes to life through drawings.
Zoe Roper, 11, who will be starting in September at Monkwearmouth Academy, said: “I really enjoyed the session and learnt how to use shapes to create different animals.
"I enjoy reading books and my favourite is Gangsta Granny.”
Katerina Cucinello, 10, who attends Barnes Primary School, added: “The workshop was lots of fun – it was brilliant to meet a real life illustrator and author. It was good to draw the animals and bring them to life.
"My favourite was drawing the hedgehog and Harry Potter’s owl. I love the Harry Potter books and the Tom Gates books.”
The workshops, which took place at Sunderland City and Washington libraries certainly appeared to have the desired affect to inspire artists and illustrators of the future.
St Joseph’s Primary School pupil Georgia Binnelly, nine, said: “The workshop was super-fun and I learned so many things about drawing. My favourite animal drawing was the panda.
"It was really exciting to meet a real illustrator and I would like to be able to do drawings for children’s books one day.
"I love to read books and my favourite is Clownfish.”
Liz, 45, has been working with Sunderland libraries for 18 years and ran a series of online sessions for children after the curtailment of last year’s event due to Covid restrictions.
She has created characters and illustrations for many classic children’s books including Little Fred Ridng Hood, Elephant Rides Again and Not so Silly Sausage and believes encouraging children to read is imperative to their enjoyment and success in school.
Liz said: “Lots of kids may love drawing but are not so keen on writing. Illustrations can help engage children with books and creating and reading stories.
"I get the children to start with a drawing of a character and they can build their story around it. Reading is such an enjoyable activity and provides a source of escapism – particularly during the Covid lockdown.
"It’s vital to help children’s whole education."
The author and illustrator hopes the sessions will encourage children to return to their local libraries.
She added: ‘There are so many books in the libraries which children can borrow. If a child says they don’t like reading then I say they haven’t found the right book yet.”
The workshops were part of Sunderland City Council’s Summer Reading challenge with each child given a target number of books to encourage them to continue reading over the summer holidays.
Simon Marshall, director of Together for Children who oversee Children’s Services at the Council, said: “The importance of children reading can't be underestimated. Reading is essential for a child’s education, social and cognitive development as well as their wellbeing and mental health.
"Building reading into a child’s daily routine, either by themselves or with an adult, is essential to supporting their development and will help with all aspects of their learning when they return to school in September.”