More than 200 school children across three schools in Plymouth have taken part in storytelling sessions organised by Drake Circus aimed at helping them fall in love with reading.
The events involved children hearing stories from a professional storyteller, John Hughes, and were part of the Young Readers Programme, an award-winning initiative sponsored by Drake Circus’ owner British Land and run-in partnership with the National Literacy Trust, designed to encourage children to read outside of the classroom.
During the literary-focussed events, pupils from Stuart Road Primary, Pilgrim Primary School and Pennycross Primary School also learnt how to choose books they will enjoy and were able to take home a book of their choice.
British Land and the National Literacy Trust are celebrating 11 years in partnership this year and, since the programme launched at Plymouth, it has supported more than 2,500 school children and seen more than 7,700 books donated across the city.
Research by the National Literacy Trust has shown that owning a book means children are more likely to say they enjoy reading and are more inclined to read in their free time. However, almost 6% of children in the UK do not own a book, which equates to almost 415,000 children across the country*.
With reading for enjoyment proven to have a positive effect on children’s reading skill* as well as their wellbeing and mental health, the Young Readers Programme initiative aims to give support and help with the development of children in under privileged areas by giving them access to books.
Greg Lumley, centre director and Drake Circus said: “Supporting local children and their families is so important to us and the Young Readers Programme is an integral part of this. We look forward to this brilliant initiative every year and have loved seeing children from across our community enjoy their storytelling sessions.”
Jonathan Douglas CBE, Chief Executive of the National Literacy Trust, said: “Reading for enjoyment is proven to support mental wellbeing, literacy skills, and future success. Encouraging children to enjoy reading from a young age can have a measurable impact on the rest of their lives.
“But the sad reality is that 6% of children across the country don’t have their own book to read at home, and many don’t find reading enjoyable. Through the Young Readers Programme and the support of British Land, we are able to help so many more children have fun whilst reading outside the classroom, give them access to inspiring books and access to many benefits that they may otherwise be missing out on.”