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August 31, 2017

Hillstreet helps to tackle low literacy levels in North East – rated among lowest in the country – through Alice in Wonderland event

Families tumbled down the rabbit hole into the topsy-turvy world of Wonderland this weekend at a shopping centre event celebrating International Literacy Day.

Hillstreet Centre welcomed hundreds to its Kids Club event, Into the Looking Glass, where The Queen of Hearts, Alice and The Mad Hatter hosted a series of literary workshops encouraging children to read aloud and project their voices, while teaching them the art of imagination.

The event aimed to raise awareness of the importance of literacy skills and inspire local children and families to pick up a book after it was revealed this year that 17% of the North East’s population aged 16 to 65 have literacy skills around those expected of a nine to 11-year-old – among the lowest literacy levels in the country.

Peter Drabble, centre manager at Hillstreet Centre, said: “It is always fantastic to see such a great turn out to our free family events, which we are committed to hosting throughout the year – but this one ran much deeper than a fun day out.

“There have been a number of initiatives launched in Middlesbrough to address low literacy levels in the town, such as The National Literacy Trust Hub which has already had a significant impact on the number of children reaching a good level of development.

“This event to celebrate National Literacy Day is Hillstreet’s contribution to encourage younger people to read more and parents to share the interest with them by showing that reading can be enjoyable for all the family.”

It is not the centre’s first contribution to encouraging literacy skills amongst youngsters in Middlesbrough. The retail destination recently launched a short story writing competition in collaboration with acclaimed children’s author Peter Brunton.

Into the Looking Glass also comes hot on the heels of Hillstreet’s Back-to-School event, where Middlesbrough’s Central Library had a stall and managed to sign up dozens of new members.

Here are some top tips to get your little ones reading:

• First, build a good foundation and develop a positive attitude about reading by letting them pick the stories they enjoy.
• Read to your kids regularly. Even 15 minutes of reading with their children each day can expose them to one million written words in a year.
• Practice shared reading. This could entail taking turns reading pages, sections or chapters, or you and your child silently reading the same book.

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