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Hillside Primary School buys Christmas book for every child

PUBLISHED: 19:59 19 December 2017 | UPDATED: 19:59 19 December 2017

Children at Hillside Primary School in Ipswich received a book from Father Christmas. Pictured: Neale, Erina, Nicholas, Frankie, Lily, and Maria. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Children at Hillside Primary School in Ipswich received a book from Father Christmas. Pictured: Neale, Erina, Nicholas, Frankie, Lily, and Maria. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Christmas really has come early for over 500 children – after their primary school bought them all a book to read over the festive period.

Neale reading to Santa. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNNeale reading to Santa. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Hillside Primary School in Ipswich is joining a new reading initiative designed to improve reading levels in all year groups.

But in order to join the Accelerated Reader programme, headteacher Lee Abbott was told the library must be updated and every book must be returned – meaning students would be left without their favourite novel during Christmas.

They take home a library book each day, not just for Christmas and other breaks.

Lily with her new book. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNLily with her new book. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

So Mr Abbott and other school leaders decided the best way out of the predicament was to buy a book for every child – and even got Father Christmas to deliver the presents yesterday, causing a mixture of shock and delight among pupils.

Mr Abbott said: “In terms of cost, when sourcing the books in bulk, they are really quite reasonable, but the small amount of cost for providing every child with the opportunity to read over Christmas was negligible compared to the academic cost in the child not having a reading book. That’s a small price to pay, to ensure that every child has the opportunity to read over Christmas.

“Reading is a priority for all schools, and raising reading standards and the love of reading is what we do best, and what we want to emphasise the most.”

Neale reading to Santa. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNNeale reading to Santa. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Year group leaders were asked what they thought would be the best books to buy for their children, and books were linked to classroom learning. The books ranged from Roald Dahl novels to Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo.

Mr Abbott said: “The students absolutely loved getting their presents from Father Christmas. Their reactions were lovely. I’m sure the parents will be pleased.

“Reading is the simplest but most valuable thing that families can do with children before they reach school, and the thing we emphasise to parents is, if you don’t do anything else with the children, develop a love of reading. Let them see you reading. Have books in the house, so they see how important reading is.”

Frankie with his new book. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNFrankie with his new book. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The Accelerated Reader programme invites pupils to choose and read a book at the right level for them and then take an online quiz to demonstrate their understanding.

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