NOVEL novices across Dorset got stuck into a good read for World Book Night.

The annual event sees thousands of copies of best-selling books given away for free across the globe in a bid to encourage reading.

And in Weymouth, volunteers from a new literacy scheme took to Asda to encourage those who struggle with reading to give it a go.

Read Easy Weymouth and Portland is a voluntary service which gives one-on-one tuition to anyone over the age of 18 who wants to learn to read.

Asda community champion Sandy West said: “It was fantastic to have the Read Easy volunteers join us.

“If you are struggling with reading, there is help out there.

“People might get embarrassed if they can’t read or try to hide it.

“But there’s no reason to be embarrassed.

“We wanted to get the message out there that you don’t have to struggle.”

Sandy said she hoped people in the borough would take advantage of the service.

She added: “Once you take that first step into reading, a whole new world will open up to you.”

Meanwhile, children’s author and scriptwriter Anthony Burt handed out Roald Dahl tales to a group of students from Budmouth College.

The students attend a 10-week Steps Development Programme at Steps Youth Centre in Chickerell Road to help them develop their reading skills.

Mr Burt said: “World Book Night is so important because it’s about sharing the magic of reading with all ages and reminding people it’s fun, it’s great escapism to be had on the sofa, train or in the library – and that reading helps give you such a positive and creative approach to life.

“I wanted to give books for World Book Night because I’m especially keen on persuading children and young people that might not usually read – because they struggle to do so or their parents can’t afford it – to give it more of a chance.

“There are many amazing online games around now but a good fiction book gets you and your imagination to invent the world you’re reading about, to make it whatever you want it to be, rather than it being created for you already. And you can do it while drinking tea and eating biscuits.”

Councillors in Dorchester gave out free books to shoppers to mark World Book Night.

Mayor of Dorchester Stella Jones was joined by fellow town councillors Molly Rennie and Karen Armitage as they handed out novels to passersby at the Town Pump.

Cllr Jones, who was giving away copies of Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin, said this was the third year they had marked World Book Night in this way and the initiative had been well received by people in the county town.

She said: “It went very well, people appreciated being given a free book to read and it was nice to be able to give books to people whom might not read very much.”