Young readers dive into stories for Portsmouth summer reading project

Elsie-Mai Kew and Lilly Winslade with their certificates and medals. Picture: Allan Hutchings (142731-306)
Elsie-Mai Kew and Lilly Winslade with their certificates and medals. Picture: Allan Hutchings (142731-306)

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MEDALS have been awarded to children who have read a staggering 9,000 books between them as part of a summer reading challenge.

More than 1,500 bookworms took the opportunity to read at least six books each during the school holidays.

It was part of the Summer Reading Challenge run by Portsmouth Libraries, which this year invited them to ‘enter the mythical maze,’ reading whatever they liked, from joke books to fact, picture and audio books borrowed from any of the city’s libraries.

Youngsters aged between four and 11 were also invited to take part in a series of activities based on this year’s theme, from making unicorn horns to sock monsters.

On Saturday, children who took part and their families were invited to a free winners’ event at Southsea Castle where they were each awarded a medal and a certificate for completing the challenge.

Dave Percival, learning and engagement manager, said: ‘This year we’ve got a record-breaking year.

‘We’ve had 1,554 children complete the challenge across Portsmouth.

‘It’s actually two per cent up on last year. It represents more than 10 per cent of primary school children.

‘The kids think it’s fun – they’ve got certificates and medals, but of course there’s a serious side to it as well which is about maintaining literacy throughout the summer holidays. Of course literacy is a huge issue in the city.

‘Well over 9,000 books have been read – and of course that’s voluntary.

‘Every year it just seems to get bigger and bigger.’

Lindy Elliott, library and archive service manager, said: ‘We’ve been very busy. All of the children got their medals and certificates.

‘It’s just good to see them so excited.’

Sian Rowe, 18, and Vicky Johnson, 16, are among a group of volunteer ‘reading activists’ who have helped support youngsters in completing the challenge.

Vicky said: ‘It was good fun. It’s nice to be able to do it.’

Sian added: ‘The children would come in [to the library] and tell us what books they’ve read. We ask them what they like about it and give them a sticker when they have read a book.

‘It’s raising awareness for libraries and showing them libraries are for young people too.’

Ellen Charlton, three, and brother Edward, five, were among those receiving medals at the event. Ellen said: ‘I’ve got a medal.’

Edward said: ‘I like reading books.’