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'Books can open so many doors to kids'
THE Bishop of Dorchester has backed the Oxfordshire Reading Campaign and spoken of his love of the Lord of the Rings.
The Right Reverend Colin Fletcher said it was vital to encourage children to enjoy books.
The reading campaign is an Oxfordshire County Council initiative which is being run by the National Literacy Trust and backed by the Oxford Mail.
County Hall has set aside £500,000 to improve children’s literacy and youngsters’ enjoyment and confidence in reading.
It comes after the city was named as the worst in the country in all subjects at Key Stage 1 in 2010.
But last month, the proportion of Oxford schoolchildren achieving expected levels in reading and in writing at seven showed improvement.
The Rt Rev Fletcher, right, said: “Anything that can be done to help our children enjoy reading is wonderful. I would not want to knock what goes on in our primary schools because the teachers I see are doing a superb job, but anything to make it better is good news.”
He added: “There is something hugely significant about the power of story. Stories allow you to use your imagination, and for children to have their horizons expanded and to be able to enjoy stories is really important.
“I could not do my job without reading. I have to produce a lot of written letters, sermons and papers on various things, and the endless emails.
“The ability to read, and not just to acknowledge but to be able to sort out what you are reading and why you are reading it, is hugely valuable.”
The Rt Rev Fletcher said he was a keen reader and had recently enjoyed The Hunger Games series and books by Norwegian author Jo Nesbø and English novelist Hilary Mantel.
He said: “If I am not allowed the Bible or Shakespeare, I would say Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings is my favourite. It is one of those classic stories.”
The Rt Rev Fletcher said he used to regularly read to his children when they were young.
He said: “We used to read before bed at night and we read Postman Pat’s Windy Day many, many, many times. It was a way of sharing something with them and being close and also helping to encourage them in a love of reading.
“Reading is a door that opens so many possibilities, both with the imagination and for them in their work and living.”