National education charity Achievement for All is celebrating the results of a year long campaign to encourage primary school children to read, on World Book Day, Thursday 3rd March 2016.

The campaign, called One Million Minutes, challenges primary schools across the country to read for as many minutes as they can in just one week. The class which manages to read for the most minutes and top the leaderboard by the end of the week wins the challenge and is presented with a brand new reading corner and books worth over £1,000 courtesy of Peters Books & Furniture.

So far, the competition has been held at eight locations over the past 12 months; Bristol, Somerset, Berkshire, Nottingham & Derby, Wiltshire, Lancashire, West Midlands and Yorkshire.

27,983 children have taken part, from 931 classes, reading for an amazing 3,172,266 minutes! The next challenges will take place in Devon and Northamptonshire in June.

Children’s authors have backed the challenge along the way, including Yorkshire based Hilary Robinson. Author of over 50 illustrated children’s books, Hilary showed her support for the campaign by visiting the winners of the West Yorkshire challenge, Rothwell C of E Primary Academy in Leeds.

She said: “I am delighted to support the One Million Minutes initiative which is an inspiring way of encouraging a passion and a habit for reading. A book is a friend and young readers will be comforted to know that, with a book, they are never alone.”

The aim of the One Million Minutes campaign is to encourage children to read, following research that reading for just ten minutes a day can have a huge impact on a child’s education. A quarter of all children leave primary education without reading well and in England, struggling to read is more closely linked to low pay and the risk of being unemployed than in any other developed country.

Sonia Blandford, CEO and founder of Achievement for All, said: “The statistics are really worrying, but we want to change this. Reading is at the very crux of education, and the challenge has been a really powerful way for teachers and parents to motivate children to read. We’ve had great feedback from teachers who say the challenge has inspired even the most reluctant of readers to pick up a book and really enjoy reading. And that is what the challenge is all about. We want to instil a lifelong passion for reading. It has been fabulous to see so many children sign up and engage with the challenge. We only have two more regional legs left, but we will be launching a national challenge in the coming months, so the whole of the country can get involved!”

Elaine Allen, Headteacher of St John Vianney’s Primary in Blackpool, said: “The One Million Minutes Reading Challenge has been instrumental in putting reading firmly back into the spotlight, both at school and at home. Everyone in school and at home, have been involved in the challenge. The children have read with their families, their teachers, their peers and with children in different year groups. Parents have been welcomed into school to read alongside their children. Every minute of reading has been recorded. And this has sent a clear message to everyone involved. Reading is important! It’s something everyone does and it’s something everyone can do.

“But it’s sent out another message too. Reading is fun! The competitive element of the challenge has put reading on a par with sport, games and all those activities which children enjoy doing not only for the sheer buzz of taking part but also because it encourages you to do your best. Winning this challenge has been the icing on the cake. We are going to build upon the initiatives we have implemented over the last few weeks to ensure reading is given the attention it deserves in ensuring our children achieve their very best both in and out of school.”

“It was amazing to find so much time to read so many books.” Holly, aged 10, class 6OK.

“I enjoyed watching our minutes increase, seeing how many books we could read and comparing them with others!” Caitlin, aged 10, class 6OK.

“I’m excited to think about all of the possible books we will receive and can’t wait to read them!” Amy, aged 10, class 6OK.

 

Achievement for All is one of a coalition of charities leading the Read On. Get On. campaign to get every child reading well by the age of 11 by 2025.