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Projects seek to get more people hooked on books

PROJECTS intended to promote reading for "everyone, everywhere, anytime" were this week given pound;400,000 by the Government.

Twenty-eight projects have been given up to pound;25,000 to take part in the National Year of Reading, which begins in September as part of the drive to improve literacy and promote lifelong learning.

They include a scheme to take libraries into the wider community, adult evening classes in reading and a scheme to teach children who cannot speak to read.

Others are aimed at ex-offenders, ethnic minorities and socially-excluded young people.

Announcing the details at the Booksellers' Association conference in Harrogate earlier this week, schools minister Stephen Byers said: "The National Year of Reading will seek to engage the whole community in thecampaign to raise literary standards. It will do so by promoting reading for everyone, anywhere, anytime."

A quarter of adults in the UK have problems with literacy, according to a survey published last August, while 43 per cent of 11-year-olds failed to meet expected standards in English last year.

Mr Byers said: "This is a situation we are determined to address. I cannot stress enough the importance of well-developed literacy to success and fulfilment at school, college, in the workplace and to quality of life."

One of the projects is Curiosity Kits. These aim to encourage boys aged seven to nine to read at home by offering them "book bags" containing non-fiction on football, computers and other subjects of interest.

Another national project, called BOOX, aims to reach socially-excluded young people . Co-ordinator Miranda McKearney said: "If teenagers are having a tough time, imaginative literature can be very helpful, but it is not something they would necessarily tend to think of. We want to try to reach those youngsters."

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