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National Literacy Trust, WHSmith and WHSmith Trust celebrate 15 year partnership which has given away over 70,000 books to children who need them most

15 Dec 2020

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This year, the WHSmith Trust and WHSmith are celebrating 15 years of working with us to bring exciting children's literacy programmes to schools in the UK.

Over the last decade and a half our partnership has supported reading for enjoyment through the Young Readers Programme.

Our research shows that children who enjoy reading are three times more likely to read above the level expected for their age as those who don’t enjoy reading and yet 1 in 11 disadvantaged children don’t even own a single book.

With the help of WHSmith, The Young Readers Programme has brought inspiring author visits to primary schools, encouraged a love of reading in the classroom and at home and given the gift of reading through vital book donations of over 70,000 books to over 27,000 children across over 100 schools in the UK.

To celebrate this wonderful anniversary, we launched the WHSmith Ultimate Writing Challenge with the WHSmith Trust and WHSmith and we are delighted to say that Sophie from Highweek Community Primary School in Newton Abbot has been named the overall winner for her piece of work! Well done Sophie!

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The competition was set exclusively this year for primary schools who have participated in projects run by the National Literacy Trust and WHSmith over the last 15 years.

Pupils could choose from three exciting writing challenges each set by a different author, poet or illustrator and entries were judged on their creativity, originality and imagination:

  • Challenge 1: A letter from space. Author Hilary Robinson and illustrator Lewis James challenged children to write a letter from space to someone back at home about their out-of-this-world experiences, inspired by her book Jasper: Space Dog (Strauss House Productions).
  • Challenge 2: A poem about a special place. Poet Karl Nova challenged children to write a poem about a place that’s really special to you, inspired by his poem The City of My Birth, in his award-winning book Rhythm and Poetry (Caboodle Books).
  • Challenge 3: A story about a dragon. Author and illustrator Steve Antony challenged children to write a story about a dragon, inspired by a picture from his book Amazing (Hachette Children’s).

Two winners were selected for each writing challenge, and Sophie from Highweek Community Primary School took the overall winning spot with her letter from space. Sophie has won £100 for herself and £300 for her school to spend on books and stationery in WHSmith, plus a very special virtual author visit for her school in the new year. All of the winners also receive a bag of WHSmith merchandise to enjoy.

Well done to Kieran, from Crab Lane Primary School for winning the ‘letter from space’ challenge along side Sophie, to Harrison from Highweek Community Primary School and Mia from St Clare's Primary School for winning the 'poem about a special place' cha;llenge and to Nneoma and Sonni from Our Lady’s Roman Catholic Primary School for winning the 'story about a dragon' challenge!

It’s been a real pleasure working with WHSmith and the WHSmith Trust over the last 15 years. Together we are so proud to have raised access to books and brought the magic of author visits and fun reading events to over 27,000 children. For many of these children, these are the first books they’ve owned. WHSmith and its Trust’s support in helping children on their journey to becoming readers is invaluable. We look forward to all the wonderful things we will achieve together in the future. Congratulations and thank you to all the wonderful young readers who entered the Ultimate Writing Challenge!

Jonathan Douglas CBE, Chief Executive of the National Literacy Trust

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