TEENAGE parents will be given support to help them read to their children through a new scheme being launched in the city.
The Reading Matters charity is setting up the project in Leeds to ensure both young mums and dads can bond with their children through books.
It is being funded by Siobhan Dowd Trust which awards grants to projects which “bring the joy of reading to disadvantaged children and young adults”. Reading Matters already works in the city sending volunteers into schools as mentors to help pupils to read.
The charity also delivers training to older students to allow them to work as “reading leaders” supporting younger pupils at their school.
Reading Matters’ chief executive Rachel Kelly said its work was focused on finding what interests individual children in order to help them to enjoy reading.
Commenting on the new project in Leeds, she said: “We want to be able to help give young people the confidence to be able to read and share books with their babies and as they grow up.”
Reading Matters is working with Leeds Council’s Teenage Pregnancy and Parenthood team to identify people who will benefit from their support. The council’s team already work with schools in the city to support pupils in the system who are also parents themselves. Mrs Kelly said the latest project would build on the success of its work which already reaches more than 4,000 children a year. It sends volunteers into schools around the region to work as reading mentors. They work with two pupils per term spending half an hour each with them twice a week over a 10- week period. Mrs Kelly said: “We find that in just 10 hours a child’s reading age can improve on average by 15 months. Our volunteers come from different walks of life but to be a mentor you need to be a decent reader and have empathy with children and young people.”