Councillor Cheryl Barnard reads to Robin Hood Primary Students

Nottingham’s Big Reading Challenge returned for the final week of November and raised over £5,000 for schools across the county.

The Big Reading Challenge is delivered through The Imagination Library charity and aims to raise funds to deliver books to under five’s to their home monthly.

Last week, the scheme returned with a fundraiser as well as councillors reading to young children across Nottingham.

Senior councillors, including Cllr David Mellen and Cllr Cheryl Barnard, were among the group of readers to children in local schools, nurseries and libraries, getting the little ones involved with the stories.

Portfolio Holder for Children and Young Children People, Cllr Cheryl Barnard spoke about what the scheme means to her and her local community.

“We are so lucky to have this here,” Cllr Barnard said.

“It covers 10 out of 20 wards and helps deprived areas, allowing for children to have a better start in life.”

The COVID pandemic made it harder for councillors to reach the schools as often and so online ‘bedtime stories’ were sent out to parents to carry on the encouragement of reading and deliver the aim of the scheme to improve children’s literacy.

Cllr Barnard told how they are beginning to see benefits of the scheme like young people interacting with the storyteller and the story.

“One of the stories spoke about hugging and two of the little ones ran up to me and gave me a big hug – it was so heartwarming,” she laughed.

“Being a foster parent myself, I know how reading to children can be a source of comfort and can be precious and important time for them and their parents.”

Cllr David Mellen organised the fundraiser and the £5,000 goal has been reached, through individual donations alongside £1,000 pledges from businesses.

To read more on the scheme and donate, visit the GoFundMe site where the fundraiser is still live: