Pupils in Hastings and St Leonards are being encouraged to pick up a book and start reading as part of a new campaign that launched in the town last week.
Get Hastings Reading, which launched on Friday (January 25), is a new initiative to inspire children and young people to read for pleasure, and gain the confidence they need to make the most of every opportunity.
It launched thanks to a partnership between the National Literacy Trust and the Department for Education’s Hastings Opportunity Area, which places education at the heart of overcoming obstacles to social mobility.
Nearly 2,000 children took part in a host of literacy events across the town, ranging from a book-themed bus tour to exciting assemblies in 14 local schools, while every school in Hastings received a bundle of 25 books for their library.
The book-themed bus visited 150 children in Years 5 and 6 from five local primary schools across the area.
The children – who came from Robsack Wood Community Primary Academy, Hollington Primary Academy, Little Ridge Primary Academy, Ore Village Primary Academy, and The Baird Primary Academy – were invited on board and treated to performances from local poet Lucas Howard.
Lucas performed three of his own pieces, and the children then wrote their own poems and raps about things that were important to them. Each child was gifted a new book, donated by Penguin Random House UK, a Get Hastings Reading Bookmark, and a Hastings 100 Reads entry card to take home.
The staff who accompanied the children were equally enthusiastic, with a teacher from Ore Village Primary Academy commenting that is was ‘a brilliant idea’. They added: “It’s so good to see the children excited about reading, they don’t have enough books in their lives.”
Amber Rudd, MP for Hastings and Rye and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, visited Silverdale Primary Academy on the morning of the launch.
While there, she officially opened the new school library, read an excerpt from The Iron Man by Ted Hughes to a group of Year 3 children, and chatted to pupils about their favourite books.
She said: “Literacy is so important for our young people and I am delighted that the Opportunity Area funding has focused on improving this in Hastings.
“I enjoyed my visit to Silverdale Primary Academy and I am pleased that the pupils were happy to take part in ‘Reading with Rudd’! Thank you to the National Literacy Trust for their hard work in organising this campaign.”
Jonathan Morris, headteacher of Silverdale, said: “Silverdale are so proud to be part of the launch – it’s such a wonderful initiative.”
An additional 13 primary, secondary and special schools were involved in literacy-themed assemblies hosted by exciting speakers and storytellers, which helped reach a further 1,800 pupils.
This was also an opportunity to launch the Hastings 100 Reads initiative – a hunt for the town’s top book recommendations – and to donate a bundle of books from Walker Books for their school library.
A selection of donated books went to all schools in Hastings, adding up to approximately 800 books given away on the day.
The day finished with an event held at Stade Hall where local partners and dignitaries met to learn more about the campaign and pledge their support.
Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust, opened the speeches highlighting the exciting events of the day and Amber Rudd MP spoke about the key link between social mobility and literacy.
Delegates also heard from the mayor of Hastings Cllr Nigel Sinden, performance poet Lucas Howard, National Literacy Trust Hastings Hub manager Graeme Quinnell, and two MY Trust youth ambassadors from Ark Helenswood Academy.
If you are interested in volunteering in Hastings or learning more about the campaign, contact Graeme Quinnell: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit gethastingsreading.org.uk.