Save the Children have enlisted the help of SDLP MP Mark Durkan with a campaign to battle the tendency for disadvantaged pupils to fall behind at reading.
The 'Born to Read' campaign was inspired by research published last year by the charity which revealed a quarter of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds have already fallen behind with their reading by the age of seven.
Mr Durkan attended a parliamentary event calling on all political parties to include in their election manifestos a commitment to ensure that no child falls behind with their reading at primary school.
The Foyle MP picked ‘A Bear Called Paddington’ as well as a book his nine-year-old daughter Dearbháil has enjoyed reading ‘The Story of Tracy Beaker’ as his favourite children’s books, and said: “Reading opens up a whole new world – and is vital for many other life skills.
Mr Durkan said: “It is crucial that young children are encouraged to read – whatever their background.”
‘Save the Children’ and literacy charity ‘Beanstalk’ launched the ‘Born to Read’ programme to recruit volunteers to go into schools across the UK to help children who fall behind.
Justin Forsyth, Save the Children chief executive, said: “We are delighted that Mark Durkan is supporting our campaign. No child’s chances or future should be determined by their family’s background or income bracket.”
Sue Porto, Beanstalk chief executive, said: “Reading is key to a child’s future and underpins a child’s chances of achieving at school and later in life.”
To find out more about the Born to Read programme visit www.savethechildren.org.uk/about-us/where-we-work/united-kingdom/born-to-read or to become a Beanstalk reading volunteer visit www.beanstalkcharity.org.uk/reading-helpers