New hubs and the handing out of thousands of free books are among measures taken as part of a "fairly ambitious" 10-year project to get Suffolk youngsters reading.

The Get Suffolk Reading scheme was launched in September last year by Suffolk County Council and the National Literacy Trust.

It now has three hubs established – Haverhill, Lowestoft, and Stowmarket – and 120 ‘literacy champions’ in place.

Adrian Orr, assistant director for education, skills and learning at Suffolk County Council said it was a “vitally important programme”.

“We know a child’s reading ability at the age of 11 is one of the single biggest indicators of their economic independence at the age of 30,” he told a recent Suffolk Public Sector Leaders (SPSL) meeting.

“We know that feeling confident in being able to read and write, not just as a child but as an adult, can make a significant difference to life chances."

The project, which has six-figure funding from the county council and Suffolk Public Sector Leaders, has so far attracted £340,000 of additional investment, and reached nearly 3,500 families.

Mr Orr added: "The project is built on a range of evidence-based practices that are aimed to engage with families – particularly with mums with very young children – to try and address some of the early issues that later in life create barriers for people.

“It’s a fairly ambitious, decade-long programme, not just to tackle those literacy issues but really to make a direct contribution to enhancing social mobility.”

Among the measures have been distributing 12,000 free books and magazines in the county to date and working with top authors Anthony Horowitz, Polly Dunbar and James Mayhew.

Storytelling trials and support for youngsters who struggle to read have also been carried out.

The campaign team has a series of events planned going forward, with plans for the scheme to be financially self-sufficient without local authority cash from year three onwards.

A host of organisations are already involved, including Suffolk Libraries, Suffolk Mind and Home-Start, as well as a link up with the priority education investment area for Ipswich when more details emerge.

To find out more or to get involved visit