Celebrities Join Forces to Raise Awareness of Benefits of Reading With Children

1.5 million free books given to reception-aged children as part of Booktime
This year sees Booktime gift its 10 millionth book to a child to encourage a lifelong love of reading

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Leading personalities including Mount Pleasant actress and Loose Women presenter Sally Lindsay, comedian Lenny Henry, TV presenters Holly Willoughby, Piers Morgan, Matthew Wright and ITN’s Julie Etchingham, along with Malorie Blackman, Waterstone’s Children’s Laureate, have joined forces to lend their support to an initiative that encourages parents and carers to spend time reading for pleasure with their children.  

Booktime (http://www.booktime.org.uk) – now in its eighth year – aims to inspire a lifelong love of reading.  It will give two free books to 765,000 reception-aged children in England and Wales in the 2013-2014 year of school. This year’s books for children in England are Charlie and Lola’s But Excuse Me That is My Book, published by Puffin, an imprint of Penguin Children’sand Tom’s Mad Mopfrom the Bug Club series by Pearson UK, part of Pearson’s education business. Four to five-year-olds in Wales will receive Charlie and Lola’s But Excuse Me That is My Book as well as a Welsh language title.  In addition, every primary school and library can also access free guidance and activity sheets on the Booktime website, with extra resources for libraries and parents also available.

It is widely recognised that one of the most important things a parent can do to help their children learn is to read with them and inspire a love of reading and books. But, recent research has revealed that up to one third of children are not read bedtime stories, and only 13% of parents read to their children every night.

The books, picked by an independent panel of experts because they are brilliant to read aloud to children and have wonderful illustrations, make it a joy for readers of all levels.

But Excuse Me That is My Book stars the hugely popular Charlie and Lola characters created by Lauren Child which inspired the Tiger Aspect produced TV series. Children will join Charlie, Lola and their friends on a trip to the library to look at all the different types of books that Lola might like to read. It is a warm and funny story about family, friends and the importance of trying new things, in a refreshed edition published especially for Booktime. But Excuse Me That is My Book is intended to inspire children through Booktime to seek out lots of new books and stories to enjoy.  In England, Booktime packs will also contain a book for children to support them on their reading journey, from Pearson UK. Tom’s Mad Mopwritten by Celia Warren and illustrated by Bill Ledger, is a bright and familiar story about playing with friends, which parents and teachers can use to help children in their own reading.

Actress and Loose Women presenter Sally Lindsay is mum to three-year-old twins Louie and Vic. She says: “I love nothing more than snuggling up on the sofa or sitting with my two sons at bedtime and reading with them.  It gives them uninterrupted ‘mummy time’ and a chance for us to go on some amazing adventures as soon as we open a book. “As a mum of twins, I know all too well that it is tough trying to juggle work, household chores and demands from others, but there’s no better feeling than giving your child a love of reading, which has to be one of the best starts you can give them in life.”

This year marks a very special milestone for the Booktime initiative with its 10 millionth book being gifted to a child this term.
Peter Hughes, head of corporate responsibility at Pearson, the world’s leading learning company, said: “The more we read, the more we know and as we learn, so we progress and grow.  So what better gift to give our children starting school, than 10 million chances to start to read, learn and grow?”

Viv Bird, Chief Executive of Booktrust, added: “At Booktrust we know that just one book can make all the difference to a child’s life – just think how much of a difference ten million books have made! Thanks to our strong partnership with Pearson through Booktime, we are extremely proud that so many books have given pleasure to so many children.”

Given digital technology is becoming more dominant in the family home, this year, for the first time, children, together with their parents and carers, can log onto the Booktime website www.booktime.org.uk for free e-books to read online from Pearson.  They will also be able to listen to the books being read aloud as well as access free games and activities.

And the reading continues….

To further encourage reading for pleasure among older primary school children at a time when their interest in books can lapse, Pearson, the Pearson Foundation and Booktrust can announce that schools can now sign up to take part in Read for My School 
www.readformyschool.co.uk this academic year.  The free national schools’ reading competition sees over 100,000 books donated to schools and children who are challenged to read as many of the books as they can in two months from a unique online library and list of recommended reads.  Schools and pupils will be awarded prizes for ‘Most Books Read’ and for a written piece around the power of reading.  Parents should check with their school that they have signed up.

For further information on the Booktime programme please contact:
Maria Boyle on maria@mbcomms.co.uk
 or 020 8876 8444
Rosi Crawley on rosi.crawley@booktrust.org.uk or 020 8875 4827

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Posted by Amy Moylan

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