Leading national children’s literacy charity, Bookmark Reading, is delighted to be launching its ‘Your Story Corner’ programme in Wolverhampton this month.

Primary schools in the city will be able to apply for the £2000 per-school donation of high-quality, diverse books, and teaching resources, as part of Bookmarks’ vision of helping all children to discover the joy of reading. Bookmark identified Wolverhampton as an area for support due to the majority of schools qualifying for our eligibility criteria – this criteria being a higher than national average for child deprivation and number of children entitled to Free School Meals, and a lower than national average for Key Stage 2 reading results.

More than 1 in 4 children leave primary school unable to read well and it is disadvantaged children who are disproportionately affected. This is particularly stark in Wolverhampton, with 82% of Wolverhampton children in poverty, living in households where no one is working. Research shows that quality early literacy development is central to sustainable schooling and long-term educational outcomes that will enable families to break the cycle of poverty.

Bookmark works to deliver much needed books and resources to schools to improve reading cultures, as well as trains volunteers to deliver one-to-one reading sessions with children in person or online. Emily Jack, CEO of Bookmark Reading Charity said: “We are really pleased to be coming to Wolverhampton and offer Your Story Corner to primary schools across the city.

“Children in deprived areas need our support more than ever and these Your Story Corner packs are a great first step towards breaking the cycle of children leaving primary school unable to read well. Illiteracy correlates to far higher unemployment, and this initiative is a mere step in the right direction on breaking this cycle for Wolverhampton’s next generation.”

Bookmark’s decision to come to the city has been based on several factors, including the high levels of child poverty the city experiences*. Eligibility criteria for the Your Story Corner pack include schools with higher-than-average proportion of children on free school meals, lower than national average Key Stage 2 reading levels and Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI).

The charity works with schools across the country and is calling for more volunteers to get involved to deliver 30-minute reading sessions with the children who need support the most. Bookmark pays for volunteers DBS checks, delivers training, and offers them support so that they can deliver fantastic and fun reading sessions, enabling all children to discover the joy of reading.

Primary schools in Wolverhampton will be able to apply for Your Story Corner from 11 March 2024 until 29 April 2024, after which packs will be delivered to schools in the first week of June. The news comes after Bookmark has delivered its Your Story Corner programme in Barking & Dagenham where 50 schools received packs this week, totalling a donation of £100,000.

School who want to apply should visit Free books and literacy resources for Sheffield Primary Schools — Bookmark Reading Charity | Changing children's stories. For anyone interested in finding out more about becoming a volunteer with Bookmark and delivering 30-minute reading sessions, should visit www.bookmarkreading.org/volunteer.

*31.5% in 2019 compared to a national average of 19.1% City of Wolverhampton and 59% of all 0-19 year olds living in Wolverhampton live in a deprived area Wolverhampton Children’s Trust/(*Research shows - Education for All, 1990; World Education Forum, 2000).

Schools have up to the 30 April to apply. You can find out more about how to apply here Free books and literacy resources for Sheffield primary schools — Bookmark Reading Charity | Changing children's stories