A TREE of literary knowledge has taken root in a junior school which is encouraging youngsters to branch out and read in a range of ways.
The larger-than-life artwork at Newbridge Juniors allows children to pin their book reviews on to branches representing a range of genres within the fiction and non-fiction categories.
It is so popular boys and girls of all ages are clamouring to take books out of their library – and recommend good reads to their peers.
George Marston, 11, said: ‘I’ve never seen our library as popular as it is now.
‘The tree works because the children are making recommendations, and not teachers.
‘I’ve written a few reviews – my favourite genres are detective stories and thrillers.
‘But now I’m reading about World War Two and Afghanistan so I’ll be decorating the non-fiction branches soon.’
The tree is one of several initiatives to encourage all types of learners to read for pleasure – and enhance their literacy skills.
Year 4 to 6 children are given laptops to read E-books and texts enhanced with sound effects, video footage and images.
The school has also launched a reading mentor scheme where book-lovers take less confident readers under their wing.
And each classroom boasts a ‘reading corner’ with a mini-library and soft chairs for pupils to nestle on.
Julita Baluta, nine, who moved to the UK from Poland at the age of four unable to speak a word of English, now has a reading age of an 11-year-old.
She said: ‘I enjoy reading with other pupils because they help me learn new words and it’s more fun discussing books with someone nearer to my age.’
At Newbridge, which has joined our Read All About It campaign to boost reading across the city, 80 per cent of pupils make good progress in English by the time they are ready for secondary school – and teachers want to do even better this year.
Headteacher Claire Stevens said: ‘The only limitation to improving reading would be a lack of imagination as to the diversity of reading opportunities we provide for our readers.
‘There’s no one size fits all solution here – we’re determined to find whatever it is that makes every single pupil a reader.’
Shenice Jackson, 10, agrees. She said: ‘We have a lot of choice when it comes to reading.
‘Some pupils can read from a computer to get a more interactive experience, but others like me like a good old-fashioned book!’
For details on how to join our campaign visit portsmouth.co.uk/news/campaigns/read-all-about-it or email email@example.com.