Launching the National Year of Reading in Halton
St George's Day, Shakespeare's birthday and the launch of the National Year of Reading - this was 23rd April at Stobart Stadium, Halton- home of the Widnes Vikings. This weekend also sees the National Join Your Library campaign so there couldn't have been a better week for this event- and the sun shone!
Over 200 people of all ages gathered in the Sports Hall - pre-school and older children, teachers, council employees, stadium employees, community groups and members of the general public. They had all been invited to bring along something to read, whether that was a comic, magazine, book or even paperwork, for a mass-read on the pitch.
The event was strongly supported. The Mayor and Mayoress and Councillors were joined by the Chief Executive. The Brindley, Library Service and Children and Young Peoples Department were strongly represented. Levi Tafari an internationally renowned poet and Hilary Green, designated by the National Year of Reading as Halton's 'local' author 'in residence' were also taking part.
The click of bat on ball was replaced by the sharp syllables, skilful rhymes and resonating rhythms of the poetry of Levi Tafari. Introducing the event, Levi emphasised the importance of reading in his own development and in all particulars of children's lives. In such poems as 'Reach for the Stars' he made clear the link between reading and achievement.
After Levi's 'inspiration' and 'motivation' the ambassadors of the 'Reading Community of Halton' left the hall to picnic in the sunshine on the pitch, in the stands and dug-outs. The call of the hooter announced the 'ten minute tales' time when everyone read from a book or their preferred reading material. Some listened as Hilary read from one of her books, an event we must repeat for a longer time. As the videos and photographs will confirm everyone did indeed read for ten minutes.
After the hooter raucously signalled the end of 'ten minute tales', the challenges to be taken up by Halton Borough Council to provide a sustained legacy at the end of the year were announced. The most significant of these is to provide a legacy through the creation and adoption of a 'Literacy Strategy for Halton' that has firm foundations in Family Literacy whilst encompassing all age groups.
The second challenge is to foster a love of reading in young children that will enable them to fulfil their own potential and face the diverse challenges of the 21st Century.
Every individual, family, organisation and workplace in Halton was challenged to make one practical commitment to raise the profile of reading for purpose and pleasure.
The focus now will be on keeping the profile of the National Year of Reading in the forefront of everyone's minds in Halton and on supporting Halton Borough Council in meeting its challenges. The event was organised as a joint venture between Halton Libraries and the Education service and was a very positive start to the National Year of Reading in our authority.
With thanks to Janette Fleming of Halton Libraries and Paul Langford Primary Literacy Consultant Halton Borough Council Children & Young Peoples Directorate for the above.