Big Reading Challenge will boost Bulwell children's literacy levels

Coun David Mellen, leader of Nottingham City Council, sharing a book with youngsters as part of the Big Reading Challenge.
Coun David Mellen, leader of Nottingham City Council, sharing a book with youngsters as part of the Big Reading Challenge.

Children in Bulwell are to benefit from another Big Reading Challenge that is being held to raise funds for a charity that gives away free books.

Nottingham City Council has been hosting the challenge all this week, with readings to youngsters at schools, libraries, nurseries and children’s centres.

It runs until Sunday and aims to generate £5,000 for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a scheme that delivers a free book every month to children from birth to the age of five.

Coun David Mellen, leader of the council, said: “The Imagination Library is proven to improve children’s literacy levels.

“There are currently more than 5,400 Nottingham children registered with the scheme, but we want to do more.

“Our ambition is for every child in Nottingham to get a free book every month. But we need funds to make this happen, so we’re asking for as many people as possible to support the reading challenge. Giving children the best start in life is a priority.”

Singer Dolly Parton herself set up the Imagination Library in the USA in 1995.

Interest in Nottingham was sparked in 2011 when a school teaching assistant raised funds and encouraged people to support it.

Momentum gathered when the Rotary Club of Nottingham worked with the city council to get involved. Now, it is running successfully in ten of the city’s 20 wards.

The scheme relies on donations, with £2 paying for a child to get a new book, £25 paying for a new book each month for a year and £125 paying for a book every month to the age of five.

Coun Cheryl Barnard, portfolio holder for children and young people, said: “We believe in the importance of reading. Not only is Nottingham a UNESCO City Of Literature, but we also have an ambition to create the best children’s library in the UK.

“By getting books, our children are more likely to be ready to start school when they turn five. We know that reading with children is one of the best ways to set them up for a bright future.”

Last year’s Big Reading Challenge raised £5,000 inside 50 days when Coun Mellen read stories to more than 6,000 children.