Hundreds of children targeted due to 'lowest numbers since 2005'

Storyteller John Hughes has classes of primary school children at Banks Road Primary School in Liverpool enjoying his storytelling event (Image: William Lailey / SWNS)
-Credit: (Image: William Lailey / SWNS)


An event organised by New Mersey (shopping park) has targeted hundreds of children from Speke.

The National Literacy Trust (NLT) partnered with New Mersey owners British Land to put on a programme of events due to the lowest numbers of children reading in almost 20 years. The NLT runs Literacy Hubs and campaigns in communities where low levels of literacy and social mobility are seriously impacting people’s lives.

Children from Garston Church of England, St Ambrose Catholic Academy and Banks Road Primary schools took part in the Young Readers Programme (YRP). 2024 marks the 13th year of the partnership which has supported thousands of school children.

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Russell Hall, centre manager at New Mersey, said: “Supporting our community is at the heart of what we do. We're incredibly proud of the YRP and all the local children and families we've been able to support over many years.

"It’s such a rewarding initiative, hearing how the children are inspired by the stories and activities and seeing just how excited they are to take their own book home. This is a programme that really makes a difference and we’re pleased to be a part of it for another brilliant year".

Children at Banks Road Primary School in Liverpool are all smiles with their free book s o take home from the Young Readers Programme event (Image: William Lailey / SWNS. 14/06/24
Children at Banks Road Primary School in Liverpool are all smiles with their free book s o take home from the Young Readers Programme event (Image: William Lailey / SWNS. 14/06/24 -Credit:William Lailey / SWNS. 14/06/2

Over 300 children from Speke took part in storytelling sessions designed to inspire a love of reading. New NLT research shows reading in their own free time among eight – 18 year olds is at its lowest since 2005 with two in five (approx 40%) children and young people in the North West saying they enjoy doing this.

The award-winning initiative aims to encourage reading outside of the classroom. The event was held in June when children listened to stories from professional storytellers, took part in a range of fun activities and each child was given a (free) book of their choice to take home.

Martin Galway, Head of School Programmes at the NLT, said: “Reading has an ongoing powerful role in many children’s lives and is crucial in building confidence and improving literacy skills. Through the YRP we've partnered with British Land, for the last 13 years, giving children from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds the opportunity to experience enchanting storytelling events, and choose books that speak to their interests and passions.

Storyteller John Hughes has classes of primary school children at Banks Road Primary School in Liverpool enjoying his storytelling event (Image: William Lailey / SWNS)
Storyteller John Hughes has classes of primary school children at Banks Road Primary School in Liverpool enjoying his storytelling event (Image: William Lailey / SWNS) -Credit:William Lailey / SWNS

"Our goal is to spark a love of reading that will stay with them forever, which in turn will provide them with essential life skills they need to succeed and reach their own goals".

The NLT research also revealed fewer young people who received free school meals said they enjoyed reading when compared to their peers who did not receive free meals. The YRP is designed to provide additional support, help with the development of children in underprivileged areas and give them better access to books.

They support schools and early years settings to deliver outstanding literacy provision and campaign to make literacy a priority for politicians, businesses, and parents. Their new site Words for Life provides simple, fun and educational activities for children and young people aged 0-24 to support learning at home and help them feel more confident.

For information visit National Literacy Trust HERE

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