Hundreds of children celebrate the joy of reading during 'booknic' organised by Whiteley shopping centre

HUNDREDS of children from three schools in Fareham joined together in a celebratory ‘booknic’ thanks to a shopping centre.

Sunday, 18th July 2021, 5:08 pm
Updated Monday, 19th July 2021, 10:19 am
Left to right: Imogen Barnes, eight, Isla Ballard-Spooner, eight, Mason Smith, eight, and Noah Malley, eight, of Bedenham Primary School, Gosport,
Left to right: Imogen Barnes, eight, Isla Ballard-Spooner, eight, Mason Smith, eight, and Noah Malley, eight, of Bedenham Primary School, Gosport,

More than 370 pupils from St John’s Gosport Church of England VA Primary School, Holbrook Primary School and Bedenham Primary School took part in the event, set up by Whiteley shopping centre.

The action was part of the Young Readers Programme, an award-winning initiative sponsored by shopping hub’s co-owner British Land and run in partnership with the National Literacy Trust, designed to encourage children to read outside of the classroom.

The initiative also gave the schools access to virtual interactive storytelling sessions and a literary quiz hosted by the Whiteley team.

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Pupils from Bedenham Primary School, Gosport, during the booknic event,

Mia Gordon, centre director at Whiteley, said: ‘Supporting our community is so important to us and the Young Readers Programme plays a massive part in that. It’s a brilliant initiative which we look forward to every year and it’s great to see the children celebrating at our booknic event.’

Since the programme began 10 years ago, it has supported more than 1,350 schoolchildren.

Research from the National Literacy Trust shows that youngsters who own their own books are six times more likely to read above the level expected for their age and three times more likely to enjoy reading.

Jonathan Douglas CBE, Chief Executive of the National Literacy Trust, said: ‘Encouraging children to develop a love of reading from a young age can have a tangible impact on their literacy skills, mental wellbeing and futures.

Pupils from Bedenham Primary School, Gosport, during the booknic event,

‘Yet hundreds of thousands of children across the UK are missing out on these benefits simply because they don’t have a book of their own to read at home.

‘The Young Readers Programme, with support from British Land, tackles this and we’d like to thank them for all their support over the years.’

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