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Award-winning illustrator and author Nick Sharratt is backing a new reading campaign to encourage more parents, particularly dads, to read with their children.
‘Read Manchester’ has been launched by The National Literacy Trust and Manchester City Council as a year-long campaign to boost literacy levels amongst young children.
Mr Sharratt, who has illustrated around 200 books, including over 40 books by award-winning author Jacqueline Wilson, is a Read Manchester ambassador. He said: "Having spent a large chunk of my early years in Manchester I'm delighted to be supporting the Read Manchester campaign in promoting literacy throughout the city.
"Aside from being a hugely enjoyable activity, regular reading can open all kinds of doors in life, and if you develop a love of books as a youngster it will set you up with loads of advantages for the future.
“To spread the word to young and old alike Read Manchester has all kinds of brilliant activities going over the coming months and I'm really looking forward to getting involved."
Through a variety of events and activities, the campaign will bring together a range of communities to promote reading across the city. These include author and storytelling events, community book swaps, Bookstart activities in Sure Start Children’s Centres, family learning activities and a city wide trail of BookBenches in summer 2017.
As part of the campaign, Mr Sharratt is also calling on all dads to share selfies as they read with their children. Those who post a photo on social media with the hashtag #ReadMCR will have the chance to win a variety of prizes including a range of books.
The campaign comes after previous research found that while the typical family home is crammed full of 39 children's books, parents manage to find the time to read to their children just three times a week.
According to Professor Peter Fonagy, head researcher of clinical, educational and health psychology at University College of London (UCL), a strong, lasting bond between families and children is founded on shared interests, excitement, and wonder - all of which can be achieved by reading for pleasure.
He said: “Reading opens doorways to safely explore new worlds and concepts that fire their imaginations. Children have a multitude of developmental needs that can all be served simultaneously by reading together with parents or carers they love and trust. The long-term cognitive and emotional benefits are clear – reading together promotes optimal interpersonal, developmental and educational functioning in later life."
National Literacy Trust director Jonathan Douglas added: "It’s so important for both dads and mums to take an active role in their children’s reading.
"Boys in particular need strong male reading models who will help them to develop positive reading attitudes and behaviours.
"Reading together for just ten minutes a day is enough to make a real difference.”