On your marks, Liverpool? Ready, set, read!

Hadley, Ellie and Freya from Gateacre School

Read for Good’s sponsored read has been a foundation activity in the reading lives of whole generations of children. Partnerships Coordinator, Annie Smith explains how the charity is now bringing the power of its Readathon to a whole city during  Libraries Week.

Our sponsored read has been running in individual schools since 1984. Back when we began - with Roald Dahl as our first chair - it was because we believed that space to simply read for fun in schools was being eroded. We had a hunch that learning to love to read at a young age was a Good Thing and that kids would be more motivated to read if they knew it would help other children like them.

Back in 1984, I was pushing eight and can still remember the thrill of being given license to read and get paid for it. I read 17 books (from the library, #librariesweek) and it gave me a chance to shine in a way that never quite happened for me on sports day or in the annual colouring-in competition run by the local garden centre.

If you’re reading this blog, you already know about the tons of research that tells us loving reading changes lives: from educational outcomes and attainment to social mobility and emotional wellbeing. We also know that motivation is an important part of reading well, as is reading what you love.

Our sponsored read does both- a glorious loop of kids reading whatever they like (from comics to classics) helping other children get books: both in their own school library, and through our unique programme bringing the power of stories to children in hospital. Our mobile bookcase and resident storytellers operate in all of the UK’s main children’s hospitals and in the last five years alone, we’ve given over £900,000 worth of books to school libraries. Oh, but we can do more…

A report on barn owls by my eldest boy taught me recently that a group of them is a Parliament. We haven’t yet invented a collective noun for multiple schools all joining forces to run a Readathon - I like a mustering- but that’s what’s happening in Liverpool during National Libraries Week. We’ve been working with fellow charity, the Liverpool Learning Partnership to bring the power of our Readathon to schools in its family. Liverpool of course is known as a city of readers, which is why we shouldn’t have been surprised when some 70 schools signed up to join our first ever, city-wide sponsored read...

Next Monday, we’ll have 20,000 children raring to read in primary and secondary schools across the city. Author and illustrator Sarah McIntyre is visiting schools and Central Library on Wednesday to cheer us on at the midweek point, our resident storyteller will be doing her thing at Alder Hey and trainee teachers from John Moore’s University are getting involved by sharing their love of reading in schools. As part of its wider work, the LLP will also be working with Liverpool Libraries Service during the week to ensure more pupils and families are equipped with library cards and have access to the online library collection at ReadLiverpool.

My favourite bit is probably the DEAR Liverpool event on the Friday afternoon; at 1.30pm, we’ve asked all the schools to drop-everything-and-read for as long as they like/can. And that for me is the beating heart of our Readathon. We all know that learning to love reading when you’re young is a ticket to a wider world of opportunity and adventure. But first you must read. We do that: the motivation of reading for charity nudges even reluctant readers to give reading another go, we reinvigorate reading habits in secondary-aged children and give the space for keen readers to really fly. Ready, steady, Liverpool? Now read!

Follow #LiverpoolReadathon, contact Annie at annie@readforgood.org and visit www.readforgood.org for more information or ring 01453 839005 to join in on the events around Liverpool.

You can also head over to the Libraries Week website if you’d like to see other events that are going on around the country. 

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