PEOPLE in Blackbird Leys have welcomed the campaign to get their children reading and improve literacy skills.

The Oxfordshire County Council campaign, run by the National Literacy Trust and backed by the Oxford Mail, was launched in September.

It aims to improve Oxfordshire’s Key Stage 1 results and instill a love of reading in the county’s children.

All three Blackbird Leys primary schools – Orchard Meadow, Pegasus and Windale – were invited to take part in the campaign.

Volunteer Gabi Allen helps out at the Blackbird Leys Adventure Playground at The Leys Linx Centre.

Miss Allen, of Blackbird Leys, said: “We call it the quiet room and it is for children to sit in and read.

“We have all sorts of books, stories, picture books, almost everything.”

“It’s not just reading. We also do things like maths questions and spelling too.”

The centre is open on Monday to Friday from 3pm to 5.30pm in term times.

The playground has a special reading room, so children can take time to read books and do their homework.

The campaign is working to get hundreds of volunteers into schools to read to children.

Forty-five schools have signed up to receive targeted literacy support from specially trained teaching assistants.

Blackbird Leys Parish Council chairman Gordon Roper said: “I like to read every now and again, I like history books.

“I think the campaign is an excellent idea. Kids have got to learn to read, they have to be encouraged at home and at school because it’s the only way they’ll learn.

“As soon as our great-grandchildren come home from school they get the books out and my wife reads with them.

“The youngest reads to the eldest and then they swap. It’s really nice.”

Blackbird Leys city and county councillor Val Smith said: “I’m a massive reader, I read every single day. My problem was once they taught me how to read, I forgot about everything else and just wanted to read.

“I think the reading campaign is great. The sooner kids start reading and start to enjoy the passion of stories and storytelling, the better.”

And mum of three young boys Paula Mitty, of Dunnock Way, from The Leys Children’s Centre, said: “My boys enjoy reading and we do as much as we can.

“We also have story lab at the library. From the point of view of a busy parent it can be difficult to find time to sit down and read with them.

“But as long as we are all working together, that is great.”

She added: “At the children’s centre, we read with them a lot and have just completed a creative writing course with parents, getting them to come up with their own stories to read with their children.”