SCHOOLS across the area are doing their bit to enthuse youngsters with the joy of reading, as part of the World Book Day celebrations, this month.
Following a worrying report by the National Literacy Trust, which showed almost a third of school-aged children nationally do not even own their own book, schools in Rustington, Littlehampton and Angmering have been doing their bit to buck the trend.
Literature-loving pupils at the Summerlea Primary School, in Rustington, came dressed to impress on Friday (March 2), from the world-famous spy, James Bond, to the J.K. Rowling wizarding phenomenon, Harry Potter.
Some youngsters even donned the iconic red and white stripes of the elusive Wally for the day’s celebration, while others were inspired by characters from a galaxy far, far away, with year-two pupil, Ellie Rapson dressed as Star Wars’ Princess Leia while year-five pupil Jack Knight became the fearsome Darth Maul.
Staff, dressed as their own literary favourites, also put on a show for the youngsters.
After months of voting and reading, keen bookworms from The Angmering School, as well as those from the village’s two primary schools, St Margaret’s CE and St Wilfrid’s Catholic, alongside pupils from Rustington’s Georgian Gardens Primary School, announced their winner for the West Sussex Children’s Book Awards, on Thursday.
Acclaimed author Michael Morpurgo was hailed as the literary champion, after more than 800 children in the county voted his novel, Running Wild, as the winner of this year’s award.
The former children’s laureate, whose previous titles include the best-selling novel-turned-blockbuster and stage play, War Horse, was a runaway winner.
Running Wild centres on the harrowing story of a nine-year-old boy, who was caught up in the Asian tsunami in 2004, and forced to survive, alone, in the inhospitable Indonesian rainforest.
Hilary Kemp, The Angmering School’s librarian, said: “We believe that reading is the key that unlocks the curriculum.
“If students are given the opportunity to relate reading for pleasure to all areas of the curriculum, it will help them to understand the relevance of subjects in the real world.
“We are proud to be a school with a flourishing and well-used library which is appreciated by all of its students.”
Last month, students from The Littlehampton Academy were praised by Bognor Regis and Littlehampton MP Nick Gibb for their reading passion, becoming “word millionaires”, having read dozens of books, in a matter of months.
Students at the school are now preparing themselves to take part in the Sussex Coast Schools Amazing Book Awards, which will be held in July.
They will have until June 19 to read and review the five short-listed books, a task which shouldn’t be too daunting for enthusiastic readers.
The report by the National Literacy Trust, conducted in September, showed that a staggering four million children, nationwide, didn’t own a book, an increase of almost three million since 2005. It also showed that a fifth of the children surveyed said they had never been to a bookshop or a library.