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Drive to get Suffolk children reading for pleasure behind surge in youngsters enjoying books, say libraries

PUBLISHED: 07:00 02 June 2017

Some of the summer book recommendations by Suffolk Libraries staff for children and teenagers. Picture: JAMES POWELL

Some of the summer book recommendations by Suffolk Libraries staff for children and teenagers. Picture: JAMES POWELL

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The number of youngsters who say they enjoy reading is at its highest level for more than a decade, a survey has found - and libraries in Suffolk believe schools in the county have played a big part locally.

Suffolk Libraries' marketing and communications manager James Powell and stock assistant Lynne Green with some of the summer book recommendations for children and teenagers. Picture: JASON NOBLESuffolk Libraries' marketing and communications manager James Powell and stock assistant Lynne Green with some of the summer book recommendations for children and teenagers. Picture: JASON NOBLE

The National Literacy Trust’s Annual Literacy Survey was published yesterday, and revealed that 58.6% of youngsters said they enjoyed reading very much or quite a lot – the highest percentage since the survey began in 2005.

More than 77% of children aged between eight and 11 said they enjoyed reading – an increase on 5% from 2015, while more than half of 11-14 year olds enjoyed picking up a book.

Krystal Vittles, development manager and children’s lead at Suffolk Libraries, said: “The National Literacy Trust findings are extremely positive and their report supports the recent work of Suffolk Libraries to put children’s reading at the heart of the library service.

“There are many reasons reading enjoyment has increased but we know schools, at least in Suffolk, have focused on reading for pleasure in recent years.

Some of the summer book recommendations by Suffolk Libraries staff for children and teenagers. Picture: JAMES POWELLSome of the summer book recommendations by Suffolk Libraries staff for children and teenagers. Picture: JAMES POWELL

“Alongside this, the quality and breadth of children’s literature is the best it’s ever been and there is so much choice for young readers.

Significantly, those who read regularly and enjoyed doing so were more likely to be above the expected reading level for their age at school.

Sue Barker, cabinet member for libraries at Essex County Council said: “The fact that more and more children are enjoying reading is fantastic news. Our libraries are working hard to encourage young people to read and so we welcome the findings of this Literary Trust survey and look forward to playing our part in helping young people enjoy reading.”

Ms Vittles said Suffolk Libraries lays on dozens of events throughout the year to help encourage reading, and added: “Over the coming year, Suffolk Libraries will be building on this work to ensure we are offering children and families plenty of opportunities to develop reading skills, discover new books and enjoy reading even more.”

The annual Summer Reading Challenge is expected to attract thousands of children to sign up across Suffolk and Essex, while sessions in both counties tailored to young toddlers and their parents helps get youngsters involved from an early age.

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