FEATURE: The Star launches campaign to get Sheffield reading

Youngsters who took part in last year's reading passport scheme. From l to r:- Owler Brook School students Maryam Ahmed, aged 9, Ali Alansi, aged 9, Zara Shayciq, aged 10 and Hasan Hussain, aged 11.
Youngsters who took part in last year's reading passport scheme. From l to r:- Owler Brook School students Maryam Ahmed, aged 9, Ali Alansi, aged 9, Zara Shayciq, aged 10 and Hasan Hussain, aged 11.
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The Star today launches it's mission to get the city reading.

You could be learning the basics from your first book at school, be an avid reader and think there is nothing better than spending an evening buried in your favourite book, or perhaps you have even lost your love of literature.

Dan Walker with his favourite book The Fellowship of the Ring.

Dan Walker with his favourite book The Fellowship of the Ring.

Whatever stage you are at in your literary journey we hope to inspire our readers to immerse themselves in a great story and appreciate the simple joy of reading through our 'Getting Sheffield Reading More' campaign.

Throughout the month of October and beyond we will be publishing a series of features, stories and competitions all designed to shine a light on both the importance and sheer joy of literacy.

Here is a flavour of what you can expect.

Poetry competition

Off the Shelf organising committee l to r:- Su Walker, Maria De Souza, Vanessa Toulmin, Terri Wilson and Lesley Webster.

Off the Shelf organising committee l to r:- Su Walker, Maria De Souza, Vanessa Toulmin, Terri Wilson and Lesley Webster.

The Star has teamed up with the organisers of the Off the Shelf literary festival to launch a special project designed to give a platform for young people to show off their creative talents to a wider audience.

Our competition challenges school pupils up to the age of 16 to submit videos of themselves performing a recital of their favourite poem by Michael Rosen, one of the most well-known figures in the children’s book world.

Recitals can be made by individuals or a whole class. Michael will pick the winner later this month with the first place earning up to 30 books for their school.

Send your entries to offtheshelf17@sheffield.ac.uk by midnight on October 10.

Terms and conditions

*Videos can be filmed on a professional video recorder or mobile phone. Please submit them as MP4 files and include the child's full name, age, class and school on the email.

It is the school's responsibility to ensure all children who submit performances have parental permission.

The content may be used both online and in print in The Star and associated titles. It could also be used at events held as part of the Off the Shelf festival.

Any child and school submitting content must be available for interviews with The Star once the winner is announced.

Make the News scheme

We hope all school children have a keen interest in what is going on in their community - and now we are giving you the chance to Make the News.

The project, organised in association with Learn Sheffield and The News Foundation, will task students with exploring the people, places and events that shape the world around them.

Open to Key Stage 2 students across the city, pupils and teachers will receive their own activity book and a heavily discounted copy of The Star delivered to the school once a week for six weeks.

At the end of the scheme pupils will get the chance to create their very own newspaper front page.

You can join Nancy Fielder, editor of The Star, as she explains more about the project at Learn Sheffield in Lees Hall Road, Norton Lees, on Tuesday, October 3, from 3.30pm to 4.30pm.

The project costs £2.25 for each participating student and to sign up just fill in an entry form due to go in The Star on Monday before the closing date of October 30. The scheme will run between November 6 and December 15.

Off the Shelf festival

The annual Off the Shelf festival promises a month of creative seminars, intriguing debate and insightful talks from some of the world's top writers.

Now in its 26th year, the festival will take over venues across the city from October 7 to November 3 and features appearances from the likes of thriller writer Lee Child, actor and author Robert Webb and charismatic entertainer Brian Blessed.

The Star will also be running a series of events throughout the month taking a look at different aspects of the publication's 130-year history.

Former Star journalists Philip Andrews, Neil Fieldhouse, Michael Yates and John Winter will be launching their latest book 'Grit: New Stories by Yorkshire Writers' at Dina Performing Arts in Cambridge Street, city centre, on Sunday, October 8, from 2pm to 4pm.

Editor Nancy Fielder will look back at some of the most memorable front pages to hit the headlines as part of 'The Star – A Celebration of 130 Years' talk at the Carpenter Room, Central Library, on Monday, October 16, from 1pm to 2pm.

The Star – Crime Reporting seminar will look back at some of the most shocking crimes to hit Sheffield at the Carpenter Room, Central Library, on Friday, October 20, from 1pm to 2pm.

The Star Retro supplement writer Julia Armstrong will talk about how Sheffield was a hotbed of radical politics at the end of the 18th century at 'The Star – Radical Sheffield' talk at the Carpenter Room, Central Library, on Monday, October 23, from 1pm to 2pm.

Throughout the month also read a series of features in The Star focusing on the great work done by our libraries, and also discover how the NHS is using literature to help patients.

*For a full list of events visit www.offtheshelf.org.uk

Backing for our campaign

Our campaign has been praised by people from all walks of life – from council chiefs and academics to a book shop worker and a TV personality.

Many told how in the modern age of electronic distractions including mobile phones and computer consoles – it is important to not lose sight of the importance of literature.

BBC TV presenter Dan Walker, who lives in Sheffield, said: "Texting and tweeting are fine and a great way of communicating, but reading is so important - it gives you a grasp of language, enables you to express yourself well and provides ways to describe the world we live in.”

Guy Merchant, professor of literacy in education at Sheffield Hallam University, believes reading is central to shaping how we see the world around us and said it "supports the development of enquiry and critical thinking."

Russell Thomas, events manager at Waterstones Sheffield, believes there should be more campaigns like ours to broaden access to reading.

He said: "Everyone should get access to books, but sadly in some parts of the world that is not always the case, so a campaign like this is inspiring."

Richard Wright, executive director of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and Industry, argued that if you turn your back on reading you could risk "developing tunnel vision and becoming less tolerant."

He added reading helps people to become "more aware and understanding of other people’s knowledge, beliefs and lifestyles."

Charlie Russell, who works at the Rhyme & Reason book store on Ecclesall Road, said texting and videogames shouldn't be discounted as "useless parts of youth culture" but more should be done to "explain to young people that media has its basis in published works."

Paul Stockley, headteacher at Bradway Primary School, accepted the competition with computer games and social media has made it "more of a challenge" to get children reading - but added it is a worthy pursuit as "reading is the single most important skill that children need."