More than 260 Swindon schoolchildren visited Orbital Shopping Park to take part in a series of interactive events designed to encourage reading for enjoyment outside of the classroom.
Children from Oliver Tomkins C of E Infant School, Oak Tree Primary School and Seven Fields Primary School enjoyed a range of fun literary-themed workshops, including storytelling sessions, a ‘behind the scenes’ tour of the centre and a penalty competition with staff from Orbital and Nando’s, DW Sports and ASDA. Every child went away with a book in hand and British Land, co-owner of Orbital provided each of the schools with £100 of vouchers to spend on brand-new books for their libraries.
The event was part of the Young Readers Programme – an award-winning initiative by the National Literacy Trust in partnership with British Land – that works to improve children’s literacy by motivating them to read for pleasure through a series of fun activities and gives them chance to choose books to take home and keep.
Since the partnership started in 2011, the Young Readers Programme has gifted over 127,000 books to more than 42,500 children across the country and has helped encourage more than 700 children in Swindon to read for fun outside of school.
Rachel Jones, from Oliver Tomkins C of E Infant School said: “The Young Readers Programme is a fantastic initiative and has really helped motivate the children to read more.
“A love of reading is something that can last a lifetime. It’s a great way for children to learn new things and fire their imagination, so anything that inspires them to open a book more often is amazing.”
This year, Orbital also donated £500 to Hazelwood Academy School to be spent on books for their library. Working with the National Literacy Trust, they were also able to secure a discount for the school on a range of books.
Research from the National Literacy Trust shows that 1 in 11 children and young people in the UK don’t have a book of their own at home, yet those that read every day outside of school are four times more likely to read above the expected level for their age than children who don’t.
Jamie Turner, centre manager at Orbital Shopping Park, said: “We’ve been supporting the Young Readers Programme for a number of years now and it’s an event that we always look forward to getting involved in.
“Seeing children from our local community being excited and inspired by books is really rewarding and we hope it has a lasting impact.”
Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust, said: “Encouraging children to develop a love of reading from a young age can transform their futures, helping them do better in school and improving their chances of leading happy, healthy and successful lives.
“We’d like to thank British Land, Orbital Shopping Park and its retailers for their work supporting the Young Readers Programme again this year.