DOZENS of children took part in a Dragons' Den-style reading challenge in a bid to boost reading among schoolchildren.

Pendle is an area where the average reading age is well below the national average, a council spokesman said.

To tackle the issue, the council is working with primary and secondary schools to promote reading for children in Pendle.

More than 80 organisations, including local schools, Nelson and Colne College and Pendle Council, have taken part in a Dragons' Den Reading Challenge at The ACE Centre, Cross Street, Nelson.

Around 50 reading ambassadors, students from schools in the area, pitched to businesses to ask them for their support of each of their projects, including Lloyd BMW, Raymond Smith Haulage, Colne Noyna Rotary Club and A. Rollinson.

Organiser Cathy Bridges, lead practitioner for literacy at Park High School in Colne, said: We are striving to make Pendle a reading borough.

“The Pendle Reading Challenge is a new initiative designed to improve student attainment and enhance children’s life chances.

“It’s vitally important because Pendle is an area where the average reading age is well below the national average.

“And I’m happy to report that The Reading Challenge is starting to take off. We thank all those who are supporting us for their community spirit.”

Cllr Dorothy Lord, Pendle’s Every Child Matters champion, said: “Our aim is to help all Pendle children read in line with their chronological age or above and this will impact positively on their education across all subject areas.”

The Pendle Reading Challenge has also received endorsement from best-selling authors.

Crime writer Sophie Hannah said:“I think it’s vital to get children reading for pleasure.

“The Pendle Reading Challenge is an inspired and important initiative.”

Anne Kenworthy, secondary English consultant for Lancashire, said: “Reading supports school success and opens minds and opportunities for a bright future.”

Paul Britton, Nelson and Colne College’s vice principal for curriculum who chairs The Pendle Challenge, said: “It is proving to be a powerful driving force to improve the future of thousands of Pendle’s children and young people.”