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A thousand more children reading for pleasure in the North West after first year of The Reader’s First Page project

Written by Martin Gallagher, 20th June 2019

With more than 100 parents and volunteers trained to help improve children's life chances

The Reader is celebrating a hugely successful first year for First Page, with more than 1,000 children now reading aloud for pleasure across the North West thanks to a growing network of parents, carers and volunteers.

The first year of First Page at a glance.

First Page is supported by the Steve Morgan Foundation to get more local children experiencing the lifelong benefits of reading – not least its link to having a longer life.

First Page aims to improve the confidence of parents and carers to read with their children through Stories for You and Yours training. The project also brings Reading for Pleasure to community projects with weekly story and rhyme sessions run in collaboration with partners, such as the family support network Home-Start.

Additionally, The Reader invites participants to Family Fun Days at its reading home in Calderstones Park, where they experience The Storybarn imaginative play space and enjoy a Story Discovery Outdoor Trail. Later this year, the fun will expand to include time in the newly transformed Mansion House.

The Literacy and Life Expectancy report published last year highlighted a 25-year life expectancy gap between children living in areas with serious literacy problems, versus those without. The National Literacy Trust identified parts of Liverpool, Wirral and Knowsley as having particular vulnerability.

"I've really noticed that the children are more confident with the books and the activities," explains one Croxteth Family Matters Volunteer.

"They used to get distracted, but from participating in story time, now I can see them going into their own world. They're listening to the story and reaching for the art activities. As the sessions have gone on something has sparked in them, they are so confident with the stories now.

"We've also developed our story time area, inspired by our trips to The Storybarn. We've got all the books and blankets, little chairs and cushions and pieces of see-through fabric, making a special area for them."

In Year Two of the project, even more volunteers, partner staff and parents will be trained to read either one-to-one with children or in community-based groups.

Kara Orford, The Reader's Head of Children and Young People said: "We're incredibly proud of the difference that the First Page project has made in its first year.

"We need to say two huge thank yous - firstly to the team at the Steve Morgan Foundation, thank you for your continued support of this life-changing project. Secondly we want to celebrate the families, volunteers and partner staff that are sharing great stories and poems together each and every week - THANK YOU!"

Could you make a difference in a child's life?

Reading Heroes, a Shared Reading project supported by BBC Children in Need, is looking for volunteers to read with children each week, either one-to-one or in small groups. For details of the volunteering opportunities across the Liverpool City Region please email


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