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Wednesday, August 4, 1999 Published at 17:17 GMT 18:17 UK


Parents give Year of Reading a happy ending

The Year of Reading has encouraged children's interest in books

As the National Year of Reading draws to a close, a survey suggests that a majority of parents have got the message about the importance of reading to their children.

The survey, commissioned by the Cabinet Office, has found that 80% of parents with children under the age of five read stories to them every day.

For parents of children between the ages of five and ten, the survey of 5,000 people found that 70% read to their children each day.

[ image: Estelle Morris has commended the year's adult literacy projects]
Estelle Morris has commended the year's adult literacy projects
The findings were welcomed by the School Standards Minister, Estelle Morris, who was attending an event in London to mark the end of the Year of Reading.

The minister applauded the year's efforts in raising the profile of reading among young people and adults, including the 80 projects which received a share of £800,000 funding from the Department for Education.

In particular she commended initiatives which had helped adults with difficulties in reading and promised support for the continuance of schemes set up by the Year of Reading, under the future title of Read On.

"The year has been a key part of our National Literacy Strategy. Primary teachers have been trained in the most effective ways of teaching reading and writing and the daily 'literacy hour' is in place in almost every primary school.

"Since the government took office we have provided £115m to enable schools to buy an extra 23 million books."

Books at work

The Year of Reading, which was launched by the Education Secretary David Blunkett on the set of the television soap opera EastEnders, has attempted to promote literacy as a useful and entertaining past-time.

Television adverts encouraged parents, particularly fathers, to read to their children, to help encourage an appetite for books among the young. And local events around the country backed the message that reading is good for you.

Among the projects highlighted by the minister were a "books at work" scheme, which encouraged companies to set up reading groups for their employees. Marks and Spencer, Ford Motors and Boots were among the companies that participated.

The minister praised a literacy project between Save the Children and the Working with Men organisation, which examined boys' and fathers' views on reading and published a promotional workbook.

The Year of Reading's project director, Liz Attenborough, said there would be a positive legacy left by the event.

"The sheer level of activity during the Year has been extraordinary and has made a great contribution to the process of turning us into a true nation of readers. Many projects and initiatives will be continuing, as they have proved so valuable, but there is still much to be done."

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