Wiltshire Council has launched a year-long campaign involving schools, libraries and communities to encourage people of all ages to delve into reading. The Wiltshire Year of Reading started on 27th September 2021, encouraging everyone from very young children to older adults to enjoy the written word.

As part of the Wiltshire Year of Reading, all schools in the county have been invited to sign up to a reading awards scheme enhancing reading in each school through a series of achievements to tick off along the way. The scheme is different for primary and secondary and features a range of milestones to reach bronze, silver and gold. Early years settings also has a range of books to start children learning from an early age.

Schools who achieve the gold award can become ‘beacon reading schools’, sharing their outstanding practice within others. To mark the achievement of each stage, schools will receive certificates. Additionally, libraries will be hosting events throughout the year including author talks, book festivals, a Harry Potter night and also promoting the benefits of library membership.

Early Years settings and children’s centre services will focus on a book a month with lots of exciting activities, plus there will also be the chance to access Bookstart Bookcorner and Early Words Together Groups to support the development of language skills and to encourage an early love of reading.

Wiltshire Council’s Family and Community Learning Team provides learning for families and the wider community with a range of courses targeting reading to help people in search of new skills. For families, these courses can help with learning at home and for the wider community for stepping up skills and into new work. Details of the courses can be found on the Work Wiltshire website.

Wiltshire Council is also asking schools and the public to help generate a liost of ‘Wiltshire Top 100 Books’ to encourage people to try reading different books.  There will be five book lists compiled, four for different school age groups and one for adults. People can suggest their favourite books by visiting wiltshire.gov.uk/libraries.

Cllr Laura Mayes, Wiltshire Councillor Cabinet Member for Education and Skills said “COVID-19 has had an impact on learning across all year groups and across our communities. As schools work hard to ensure pupils can have a strong education, we want to play our part to encourage children and the wider community to get reading.

“The Wiltshire Year of Reading is a programme that aims to inspire young people to read for pleasure, to enjoy the written word through a host of activities and inspire the wider community to take part too. Reading is essential to everyday life and can open so many doors to learning. It gives us fresh ideas, helps us to understand the world in which we live and supports our mental health and relationships.”