Reading Force launch at Halton

The national reading scheme ‘Reading Force’ was launched at the Trinity Community Centre at RAF Halton this October.

The scheme encourages children to read a book with parents, family and friends and then discuss the characters and story line and make a scrap book about what they have read.  Both younger and older children from the local Halton Combined School, Cherry Tree nursery and the Mothers and Toddlers group were treated to a story time by Gill Clipsham, the Library Service Children’s Reading Development Co-ordinator.  She explained that children need to learn what their local library can do for them with its wealth of children’s books which are available in e-books, e-audio and e-magazines so they can download to their ipod or pc for free.

Reading Force came to life three years ago when it was rolled out in one county, then two years ago it was trialled in three counties, after which it went nationwide with the Armed Forces Covenant donating some funds for it to be put into place on all military stations where there are children.

Anna Ellis from the Children’s Partnership Scheme run by Bucks County Council attended the launch and said: “Through various project work I got to hear about the Reading Force scheme and thought it would be nice to get involved.  It is a very simple scheme which supports children in their reading, encouraging them to form a group with friends, choose a book and read it together then make a record of it.  It can even be done via Skype with absent mothers or fathers who may be away on detachment.”

Elaine Boorman became involved with Reading Force at its inception.  She said: “A fund was set up by the government to finance Reading Force.  The money was sourced by the decision of the Chancellor to transfer £35 million from fines levied on the banks for attempting to manipulate the London Interbank Offered Rate, (LIBOR) to the MOD for use in supporting the armed forces community.  The aim of the fund is to support the two principles of the Armed Forces Covenant: that members of the armed forces community should not face disadvantage in comparison to other citizens and that special consideration is appropriate in some cases, especially for those who have given most, such as the injured and the bereaved.  The scheme is beneficial if one parent is away providing common ground to talk about what the child has read.  The scrap books can be returned to us and a prize given for the best one then it will be returned to the family or reading group for their retention.”

Halton’s Community Development Officer, Wilma Kingsbury, was very pleased as she has been working on introducing a reading scheme for some time.  She said: “Quite a few local schools have taken it on board after we sent leaflets out to them explaining how it works and so far it has been very successful.”

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