Essex Year of Reading campaign launched

Education: Secondary / Mon 28th Feb 2022 at 08:13am

THE Essex Year of Reading campaign aims to address the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on pupils’ education and help every child, young person and family in Essex discover the joy of reading.

A new, £1million campaign – the Essex Year of Reading – is seeking to support, inspire and empower pupils whose education has been adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic – all through the power of reading.

Evidence shows that as well as being fun, being able to read at their age level or higher, is key to unlocking other educational and career opportunities for children and young people throughout their lives.

Councillors, head teachers, librarians met at Hylands House in Chelmsford on Wednesday 23 February to mark the official launch of the campaign and the start of a large programme of fun activities, events and opportunities across Essex.

The programme will focus on providing additional support through schools to help children improve their reading skills via a number of initiatives. This will include author visits, writing workshops and activities targeted at pre-school children through to care home partnerships.

Providing greater access to books for all is also a key priority and vouchers will be available for parents and carers to buy books. Free books will also be provided for disadvantaged children.

A wide range of support will also be available for the wider community, with increased access to books and resources, and boosting reading skills and language development to encourage adults across the county to discover a love of reading.

The campaign has already gained significant support from local authors, including leading broadcaster and children’s author, Dermot O’Leary, who will kick-off a series of in-school events in the coming weeks.

Commenting on the Essex Year of Reading, Cllr Tony Ball, Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education Excellence, Lifelong Learning and Employability said: “Essex County Council is committed to championing equality, renewal and ambition to ensure no child in Essex is left behind or disadvantaged from the pandemic. We’re very excited to bring these outstanding opportunities to help boost reading for all across the county.”

Supporting the campaign with a series of events involving schools across Essex is leading broadcaster and children’s author of Toto the Ninja Cat Series, Dermot O’Leary. He says: “The Essex Year of Reading is a wonderful scheme set-up to help children catch-up after missing time in the classroom due to Covid-19. I’m really looking forward to helping young people discover a lifelong love of reading.”

Roy Blatchford, Chair of the Essex Education Task Force, adds: “This campaign will provide highly targeted support to children who need it most. We’d encourage everyone in Essex to get involved in the Essex Year of Reading, whether you’re a business owner, community leader or parent. Reading is so important – it helps children get on at school and develop brighter futures. We want to encourage everyone to join in this celebration of reading and help promote the fun and joy of reading.”

A new app for the Essex Year of Reading will also be available to download. It will contain an online library for children to access fiction, non-fiction and poetry, literacy boosting phonics-based support, as well as guides for parents and carers to help children with their reading. It will also include fun activities, plus writing and poetry competitions.

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