Hertfordshire County Council has been named "star local authority" by the Government for its National Year of Reading (NYR) programme.

Social services committee chairman Paul Goggins said: "We are delighted to be the star authority so early on in the year of reading."

He said recent successes include 1,700 tickets sold for the Words Alive '98 reading festival and the opening of a Literacy centre for teachers. The county has developed its own literacy strategy for schools and has set challenging targets for pupils' reading and writing abilities.

By 2002, Hertfordshire expects 88 per cent of 11-year-olds to have reached the accepted national standard -- higher than the national target of 80 per cent.

A creative NYR project is the making of Story Sacks, containing fabric toys which illustrate a story -- and keep the attention of young children.

Womens' Institutes across Hertfordshire are asking parents and grandparents to make the sacks. If you would like to get involved in the Story Sacks project, telephone Penny Shapland on 01707 281643.

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