6th December 2022
Have you heard the quote “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader,” by Margaret Fuller? It sums up the importance of reading. Even the youngest children benefit from hearing stories read to them. It becomes even more important for teenagers; besides helping them do well in school, it helps them expand their horizons as they learn more about people and the world.
Carlisle Youth Zone (CYZ) started an online Book Club during lockdown, providing something positive, fun and educational for young people to do while stuck at home.
It has continued to run since restrictions eased and now runs weekly from its purpose-built facility on Victoria Place.
The senior Book Club for ages 13 to 18 runs every Tuesday and the junior club for ages 7 to 12 runs every Wednesday. The club is a friendly, fun, and safe environment where young people can come and talk about their favourite characters and moments while increasing confidence in reading.
During lockdown, each member read one book a month and met weekly to take part in activities themed around the book. Now, thanks to a £9,738 grant from Cumbria Educational Fund and Cumbria Young People’s Fund, this has increased to two books per month and expanded the activities on offer by having ‘meet the author events’.
A report by the National Literacy Trust states those aged 11-14 who enjoy reading are three times more likely to read above the level expected for their age and those who read daily in their free time are twice as likely to read above the level expected.
Dr Ruth Jeffcoate, Fundraising Officer, said: “Some young people’s lack of disposable income makes extra-curricular reading almost impossible.”
The Book Club encourages young people to reach out, embrace new friendships and gain confidence in their abilities and identities and the discussions allow them to express themselves as individuals.
Although the Book Club is popular, there was a lack of quiet private space in which to read. Realising this, CYZ secured additional funds to create a library, which is also a space for young people to complete homework and revise for exams.
“It has proved enormously popular among our young people and has expanded our original remit considerably. The interest of young people in reading at CYZ has gone from strength to strength and is now relevant for a much wider audience of members than the original small number of young people involved in Book Club,” said Ruth.
Carlisle Youth Zone (CYZ) is open six nights a week and provides a safe meeting place for young people, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, where they can participate in a wide range of positive activities.