Building up some budding Blackpool bookworms is the aim of the council’s new literacy strategy, which is being launched to encourage resort residents to bury their noses in a book.
The challenge, part of a new 10-year literacy strategy, is being launched by Blackpool Council to improve the reading, writing, speaking and listening skills of residents across the resort.
It is open to all residents, businesses, employers and employees, and aims to build a positive reading culture through the discovery of reading for pleasure.
Families are being encouraged to read for pleasure for half an hour a day, parents are asked to read to their children or siblings read to each other, and chat to each other about the story.
Exploring words or using new vocabulary in conversation together is also part of the challenge.
Reading for pleasure is a key part of developing individual literacy skills and can lead to personal development, the council said.
A spokesman for the town hall said: “We want to see more residents reading, whether that is their local newspaper or an online review of a film they are considering watching.
“We want to encourage more of it, so we have introduced a 30 minute reading challenge.
“Attainment in Blackpool shows a picture of some challenges in the Early Years (EYFS) with good performance by the end of primary school and a significant drop-off by the end of secondary school, although this is showing early indicators of improvement.”
Statistics showed that 67.9 per cent of Blackpool youngsters in EYFS – pre-school and reception – achieved a “good level of development,” and 67 per cent of pupils achieved the expected standard for maths, reading and writing by the end of primary school.
However, by the time they reach Year 10, just 47.8 per cent of pupils achieved a nine to four pass in English and maths, significantly lower than the national average of 59.8 per cent.
A nine to five pass rate stood at 26.3 per cent, lower than the national average of 40.1 per cent.
The challenge forms one part of the town’s 10-year education strategy, which was unveiled in October last year and aims to improve prospects for Blackpool pupils.
Other ambitions include to reduce the number of youngsters expelled from schools and improve literacy among adults so they can play their part in teaching their children.
The vision is the result of a joint effort from Blackpool Council and the partners within the Blackpool Education Improvement Board (BEIB).
The literacy strategy also includes a pledge that calls on schools, colleges and businesses in Blackpool to join the campaign to champion literacy.
The aim is to establish a reading culture across Blackpool that pledges that all employers and companies will promote reading for pleasure across all ages.
Figures in 2011 showed Blackpool had a greater proportion of adults that do not have an Entry Level One qualification in English than anywhere else in the North West, and resort residents are statistically less likely to have a qualification in English at Level Two or above compared to elsewhere in the region.
A spokesman continued: “A significant element of this strategy is the notion that “you are never too old to learn,” and so there are also significant key performance indicators related to adult literacy levels.
“We must, therefore, strive to raise the level of adult literacy in Blackpool so that it is at least in-line with national averages.”