ENGLISH: Keen readers win bronze awards

TWO ardent Year 7 readers completed a series of literary tasks in double quick time to win this year’s first RGS reading challenge awards.

Aiden Jolly and Natasha Pointon were presented with bronze reading challenge certificates, along with a book of their choice.

It took Aiden, 11, from Ripon, just one day to read Crocodile Tears by Alex Rider and complete his challenges, including producing a new front cover, writing about his favourite characters and explaining the book to a family member.

Natasha, 11, from Sand Hutton, read Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo and went on to finish her assignments, including writing an alternative cover blurb and giving a talk to her class about the book, all in under a week.

The inspirational awards scheme - aimed at encouraging students to talk about and share what they’re reading - is open to all lower school students, who go on to progress to silver, gold and diamond levels.

Form tutors are also involved, with at least one period every week devoted to reading and working towards the challenges.

As a result, students are reading more regularly and more widely, strengthening the reading culture in school, says head of English Mr Fearnley: “As they progress onto the higher challenges, students will be encouraged to branch out of their comfort zone: to read a play, or a collection of poems or short stories, or to seek a recommendation from one of their teachers."

Aiden, who wants to be an engineer, enjoyed creating his front cover most: “When I read the book, I had a lot of pictures in my mind. The book is so vivid, I could visualise what happened, so was easy for me to show what I saw.”

His favourite subjects are science and maths and he enjoys reading for about 15 minutes every night, completing two to three novels a month: “I am a big fan of vocabulary and cool words.”

Natasha, who would like to study maths at university, said her favourite bit of the challenge was reading the book: “I really like reading and usually read for about 15 minutes a night and get through two or three books every month.”

Natasha chose The Boy at the Top of the Mountain by John Boyne as her prize. Aiden chose Hunger by Michael Grant.

With several their classmates already hot on their heels, they’re both now keen to move on to the silver level.

Mr Fearnley said: “One of the best moments of the reading challenge for me was watching a student give a presentation about a text she had read and then seeing another student in the class with that book the following week, on the strength of the other student's recommendation.”