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Stormont Ministers visit Co Armagh children’s book reading group

Culture Minister Carál Nί Chuilίn and Education Minister John O’Dowd today (Thursday) visited a children’s book reading group at Lurgan Library.

The Ministers’ joined with a group of nine to 11-year-olds who are members of the library’s Reading Club, as they read extracts from and discussed the plot and characters of James Preller’s “Scary Tales: Home Sweet Horror”.

Minister Nί Chuilίn said that she welcomed the opportunity to visit Lurgan Library and participate with the reading club members.

She said: “Libraries can play a vital supportive role to parents and teachers in the education of a child and initiatives such as this reading club can contribute significantly to their overall learning and development. Regular reading is not only enjoyable and fulfilling for the child but can lead to enhanced academic performance.

“In recent times libraries have diversified in terms of the services they offer and through sharing resources and working together we will provide increased opportunities for all. This is particularly true if we are to achieve the kind of learning outcomes we wish for our children and to address many of the key concerns facing us as a society, including inequality, deprivation and exclusion.”

Education Minister John O’Dowd said: “It is never too early for parents and families to get involved with their children’s education and reading is an excellent way of doing this. Children, young people and even babies love to hear stories and this early involvement has proven educational benefits later in life.

“I am committed to raising standards and closing the gap in educational attainment between children from the least and most deprived communities and as a child’s first teacher, parents and indeed the extended family, have a pivotal role to play in this. I encourage parents to visit their local library and make use of the services available to them. Playing a positive role in a child’s education helps them increase their knowledge, skills and confidence and improves their life chances.”

Irene Knox, Chief Executive, Libraries NI commented: “We are delighted to welcome Ministers Carál Ní Chuilín and John O’Dowd to the Children’s Reading Group in Lurgan Library and are grateful for their support for the library service and their recognition of the value of reading. Reading for enjoyment is recognised as a powerful factor in a child’s educational performance, with children who read for enjoyment more likely to do better at school than their peers.

“There are 89 children’s reading groups meeting in libraries across Northern Ireland, all of which are promoting and encouraging that love of reading and contributing significantly to children’s learning.”

The visit from the Ministers comes on the back of a recent Memorandum of understanding signed between the Department of Education and Libraries NI to formally work in partnership to promote shared areas of interest and greater levels of engagement between schools and libraries.

The purpose of the Children’s Reading Groups is to promote and encourage a love of reading and lifelong interest in books and to develop the reading, listening and communicative skills of the child, while increasing their confidence levels through participation in panel discussions on the content of the book they read.

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