Islington schoolchildren will be the first in the country to try out a new, personalised game designed to encourage and maintain reading for pleasure during the transition from primary to secondary school. Called The Reading Adventure, the game has been developed by The Reading Agency, a leading national reading charity using the proven power of reading to change lives, in partnership with Islington Council's Libraries Service and the borough's young people.
The Reading Adventure was launched this week by the Mayor of Islington Cllr Troy Gallagher and The Reading Agency's chief executive Karen Napier, at a special event at St Joseph's RC Primary School in Archway, as part of the 'Get Islington Reading' programme. They were joined by Cllr Valerie Bossman-Quarshie, Islington's Reading Champion, and Cllr Una O'Halloran, Executive Member for Community Development.
The pilot project launches in the borough ahead of a national rollout in 2022. It is designed to help children in Years 6 and 7 stay inspired to keep reading at a time when evidence shows reading for pleasure declines. The longer children can sustain a love of reading, the greater the benefits; 10-year-olds who enjoy reading have a reading age 1.3 years above their peers who don't enjoy reading. This rises to 2.1 years for 12-year-olds and 3.3 years for 14-year-olds.
Karen Napier, CEO of The Reading Agency, said:
"The Reading Adventure provides a new way for young people to engage with the joys of reading at a crucial age where reading for pleasure often drops off. We know how important reading is for confidence and social connection to others, and hope that this game will inspire children in Islington to embrace a life-long reading journey."
Cllr Valerie Bossman-Quarshie, Islington Reading Champion, said:
"The Reading Adventure is a great idea and an innovative way of accessing reading through a unique interactive game. It gives our children an exciting new way to continue building on their love of reading, encouraging progress by using topics that might interest them.
"We are proud to be the first council in the country to launch the Reading Adventure and support our young people to keep a love of reading through secondary school and into adulthood. Thanks to the Reading Agency and our brilliant young people!"
Children at St Joseph's RC Primary were treated to a special video introduction to The Reading Adventure recorded by the Mayor of Islington, which sees him explain how the game works, with cameo appearances from people involved in the worlds of art and craft, music, science and technology, nature and environment, sport, and cooking. In the game, children control an avatar inhabiting a virtual reading room - these avatars were all designed by pupils at Christ The King RC Primary School in Finsbury Park.
After selecting an avatar and one of the six subjects, children can choose any text which relates to their specific challenge - for example, finding out about their favourite sporting hero or taking a book to read outside for 10 minutes. These can be long or short texts, audio books, graphic novels, comics or online information. Every child should be able to play The Reading Adventure, regardless of their reading interest or ability. Children can win in-game prizes as they complete each reading activity, and jump between subjects or advance to more challenging activities.
The pilot will be run in partnership with local libraries and school libraries, and include workshops and creative activities.