HUNDREDS of children have taken part in a reading scheme which has had record-breaking success.
Portsmouth City Council ran the initiative, organised by the Reading Agency, in a bid to get children enjoying books and discovering new stories over the school summer holidays.
This year has been the most successful ever, with more than 1,500 children completing the challenge.
That’s one in 10 primary school pupils and an increase of 27 per cent on last year’s figures.
As part of the challenge, children collected stickers for every book they read.
It all ties in with The News’ campaign to boost literacy in schools, inspired by the bicentenary last year of Portsmouth’s Charles Dickens’ birth.
David Percival, Portsmouth city libraries’ learning and engagement manager, said he was thrilled the challenge had worked so well.
‘Children were really excited by this year’s “Creepy House” theme and we’re delighted that so many children have taken part this year, reading over 9,000 books,’ he said. ‘We were able to send our librarians out to every primary school in the city as well just before the summer holidays.
‘That carried real excitement around the challenge and got everybody inspired.
‘Headteachers are really on board with it because it keeps activities going on during the summer holidays.
‘It’s been a great achievement and none of this would have been possible without the support of their families and also our library staff and volunteers, who worked to make this a record-breaking year.’
Mr Percival said he also wanted children to keep improving their literacy skills during the six-week break from school.
‘We want to have a city where people have employment opportunities and reach their full potential,’ he said.
‘So it’s important that everybody leaves school with numeracy and literacy skills.
‘It’s everybody working together to make sure that young people get the best possible start.’
Children who took part in the reading challenge, along with their families, were invited to Southsea Castle to collect certificates and medals.
They were presented to children who had read six books over the summer holidays.