A RECORD number of children in Portsmouth have become book-worms this year and completed the Summer Reading Challenge.
Around 1,200 youngsters aged four to 11 signed up to the scheme led by Portsmouth City Council, and they have read more than 7,200 books between them.
The children were awarded a certificate and medal at Southsea Castle, at a winners’ event to celebrate their achievements.
The challenge is coordinated by The Reading Agency and runs in most UK public libraries throughout the summer holidays, with incentives, activities and events designed to encourage reading.
It shares its aims with our Read All About It campaign which The News launched to boost literacy in schools.
David Percival, library service learning and engagement manager, said: ‘We’re delighted that so many children have taken part this year.
‘Parents and teachers know this is a great way to keep kids reading throughout the summer.
‘Best of all it’s great fun and they often read a lot more books than the six needed to complete the challenge.’
In addition to the challenge, more than 45,000 children’s books have been borrowed since July 2012.
Many of these books were taken out on loan by children using libraries for the first time after all school pupils were issued with a library card before the start of the holidays.
City council leader Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: ‘Getting kids to read is so important to the foundation of their education, and if they don’t read then they are putting their whole future at risk.
‘It’s not just important for them, but it’s also important for our city because if they don’t read then they won’t be able to learn the skills that are vital to keep our economy going.
‘I was at Southsea Library this weekend and it was heaving with children, which was so nice to see.
‘I’m really glad the scheme has been such a success this year.’
As part of the project, there were a number of events taking place in libraries throughout the city over the summer holidays.
These were held in a bid to encourage people to visit their libraries, and included activities such as book-binding classes as well as arts and craft workshops.