Free book giveaway is keeping pupils reading through the holidays

Laura Johnsen (27) with her children Megan Johnsen (8) and Kaden Johnsen (4) and their books

Laura Johnsen (27) with her children Megan Johnsen (8) and Kaden Johnsen (4) and their books

Portsmouth Grammar School

Portsmouth mayor left ‘speechless’ after city school makes £1,800 donation to appeal

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HUNDREDS of children at a primary school in Leigh Park are getting stuck into reading during the holidays – thanks to a generous book giveaway.

Delightful tales from the pens of Roald Dahl, Michael Morpurgo and many more children’s authors are firing up imaginations of Warren Park youngsters who were sent home for Christmas with a book each to read and keep.

Despite more pressure than ever before on school budgets, headteacher Colin Harris and his governing body, who say they are creating a culture of reading for pleasure, decided donating £600 towards the book giveaway for 420 pupils was money well spent.

The generous gesture follows a recent £30,000 renovation of the school library which is now open to parents three times a week and allows families to take books out on loan.

Laura Johnsen’s daughter Megan-Marie, eight was given Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl, and son Kaden, four, received Say Goodnight to the Sleepy Animals by Ian Whybrow.

She said: ‘The idea to give away free books is absolutely brilliant and shows just how much the school values reading.

‘My children have already read their books and many more we bought them for Christmas.

‘As a parent you want to make sure all the good work that happens during term-time doesn’t go to waste in the holidays, so this is a great incentive to keep the children reading for pleasure.

‘Kaden got his book from Father Christmas and he was absolutely thrilled with it!’

Megan-Marie has been reading books every day since she broke up from school.

She said: ‘Getting a free book from the school was a really big surprise and we were all very grateful.

‘I read it as soon as I got home but I’ve also read other books in the holidays as I find it so much fun.

‘My favourite author is Roald Dahl because his stories are so funny and I love his descriptions.

‘I want to say a big thank you to our school for our excellent presents.’

Louise Crook, 31, said her 10-year-old daughter Katelyn was over the moon when she received a copy of Michael Morpurgo’s Running Wild.

She said: ‘Katelyn absolutely loves it and it is taking pride of place on her bedside table!

‘She reads from it every day and she is already half-way through it. What the school has done is fantastic because it gives the children the motivation to read – even when there are so many distractions at Christmas.’

A recent survey at Warren Park Primary showed 19 per cent of pupils did not have a single book at home.

This is a statistic Mr Harris is determined to put a dent in.

He said: ‘The teachers sat down and worked out exactly which books would be suited to each pupil and we gave them their free book on the last day of term.

‘It is often taken for granted that children own books when that is not the case, so here was an opportunity for all of them to do so.

‘All it takes is that one book to give a child a love of reading – and that’s what I hope to do for all our pupils.’

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