Sunderland Libraries Services have signed up for a global reading challenge aimed at getting children across the world to read for a collective 200 million minutes.

The 26 day challenge is part of a global campaign to eradicate illiteracy and build a brighter future for children and young people.

Beginning on World Book Day 7 March and running through until Children’s Book Day on 2 April, the challenge will see children throughout the city joining schools, families, libraries, community groups, businesses and organizations from across the world to collectively reach the record breaking target.

The campaign is run by Achievement for All, a leading not-for-profit organization which works in partnership with schools and settings to improve outcomes for all children and young people vulnerable to underachievement.

Councillor John Kelly, Cabinet Member for Communities and Culture, said: “We’re delighted to be taking part in the 200 Million Minutes Reading Challenge. Reading is so important for children in all sorts of ways, so anything that helps them to develop a love of reading has to be a good thing.

“And I have no doubt that children, families, schools and community groups across Sunderland will rise to the challenge.”

Speaking about the campaign, Professor Sonia Blandford, CEO of Achievement for All, said: “It is fantastic that the 200 Million Minutes Reading Challenge is getting such great levels of support and involvement.

“Right from the start reading dares you to grow in language, imagination, communication and self. Introducing all children and young people to the habit of reading in everyday life can improve prospects, unlocking new worlds and possibilities.

Ten minutes of reading a day can make a huge impact to a child’s development, and de-stress their parents and carers.  Imagine what a collective 200 million minutes will achieve!”

Throughout the 26-day challenge, children and young people across the world can log their reading minutes in class and at home.

Prizes will be awarded to the schools or settings who achieve the highest average number of reading minutes per child or young person. Certificates will also be available to individuals who reach key reading targets during the challenge.

Last year, over 420,000 children and young people across the UK participated in the 100 Million Minutes Reading Challenge, collectively reading 100,019,560 minutes in total. With children and young people across the continents getting involved in the 2019 event, the challenge is bigger and better than ever before.

Sunderland Libraries welcome children from the very earliest months of life with “Time for Rhyme Sessions” held weekly in all three libraries to help parents and carers to support them as they grow and learn.

Working with schools and partners, they also provide a range of activities and programmes to introduce children to the library experience and keep them coming back for more. For more information visitwww.sunderland.gov.uk/libraries

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