Over 200 Leicester schoolchildren visited Beaumont Shopping Centre this week to take part in a series of interactive events designed to encourage reading for enjoyment outside of the classroom.
Children from Buswells Lodge Primary School and Merrydale Infant School enjoyed a range of fun literary-themed workshops, including storytelling sessions, sunflower seed planting and learning about animals with staff from Beaumont Shopping Centre and Wilko, Pets at Home and Costa.
Every child also went away with a book in hand and British Land, owner of Beaumont Shopping Centre, provided each of the schools with £100 of vouchers to spend on brand-new books for their libraries.
The event was part of the Young Readers Programme – an award-winning initiative by the National Literacy Trust in partnership with British Land – that works to improve children’s literacy by motivating them to read for pleasure through a series of fun activities, and gives them chance to choose books to take home and keep.
Since the partnership started in 2011, the Young Readers Programme has gifted over 127,000 books to more than 42,500 children across the country, and has helped encourage more than 1,700 children in Leicester to read for fun outside of school.
Katy Lathwood Birch, teacher from Buswells Lodge Primary School said: “The Young Readers Programme is a fantastic initiative and has really helped motivate the children to read more.
“A love of reading is something that can last a lifetime. It’s a great way for children to learn new things and fire their imagination, so anything that inspires them to open a book more often is amazing.”
Research from the National Literacy Trust shows that 1 in 11 children and young people in the UK don’t have a book of their own at home, yet those that read every day outside of school are four times more likely to read above the expected level for their age than children who don’t .
Simon Revill, centre manager at Beaumont Shopping Centre, said: “We’ve been supporting the Young Readers Programme for a number of years now and it’s an event that we always look forward to getting involved in.
“Seeing children from our local community being excited and inspired by books is really rewarding and we hope it has a lasting impact.”
Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust, said: “Encouraging children to develop a love of reading from a young age can transform their futures, helping them do better in school and improving their chances of leading happy, healthy and successful lives.
“We’d like to thank British Land, Beaumont Shopping Centre and its retailers for their work supporting the Young Readers Programme again this year.