A YEAR ago, Joe Francis used to struggle to pick up a book.
But now the seven-year-old from Northern Parade Infant School can’t put his books down after excelling in his reading and boosting his literacy skills.
He is a shining example of how our Read All About It campaign has helped to improve literacy in schools.
Inspired by Charles Dickens, who was born 201 years ago today, the campaign has helped inspire children to lose themselves in a book and improve their literacy skills.
Across the area, schools have seen improvements in reading and writing.
And more youngsters have been visiting local libraries to hire books, with five per cent more children’s books borrowed in the past year across Hampshire and eight per cent more in Portsmouth.
Joe said: ‘I used to think that reading was going to be hard work because some books have 100 pages. But then I found it easy. Some books are so interesting because sometimes they are about things that I didn’t know.’
In the past year, Joe has read an astonishing 39 books in the Bug Club – an online reading scheme that the children can access both at home and school. And that’s on top of books he reads at school.
He has also progressed with his literacy faster than the national average.
‘It’s fun reading now because you learn lots of new things. I get excited by some books,’ he added.
‘I like to read adventure books because they are exciting. I’m happy about how far I have come.’
Headteacher Sue Wilson added: ‘Joe is a typical young boy who takes everything in. But given the choice to go outside and run around or read a book, he would go outside.
‘He’s benefited now from enjoying learning, and success breeds success. When he’s felt some of that success he wants more of it.’
The school has seen 70 per cent of children get a Level 3 or above in reading.
And Mrs Wilson praised The News’ campaign, adding: ‘When it first came out a year ago I wanted to get involved. It’s brilliant.
‘We felt it could benefit our children because it’s about reading.’