Pupils get their books out for summer read to help them settle in at their new high schools

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Whilst most pupils have put away their schoolbooks for the summer, pupils in Manchester who are due to move up to high school in September are being encouraged to get them out again.

In a unique project that has been running in the city for the last two years pupils are being helped prepare for their new high schools through the power of reading.

Before leaving their primary school each Year 6 pupil in the city was given a copy of the same book – the idea being that reading the same book as their peers would give them some common ground with their new classmates at high school.

Around 7,800 copies of author Onjali Q Rauf’s book ‘The Lion Above the Door’ were distributed to Year 6 classes in primary schools before they broke up for summer, and with the school holidays now well underway it’s hoped pupils are enjoying their communal holiday read.

Rauf’s book, published by Orion, tells the story of Leo and his best friend Sangeeta who often feel like the odd ones out at school and in the small village they live in, where everyone else is white.  That is until they go on a trip to a war museum where Leo sees his own name on a war memorial, starting him off on an amazing investigation that highlights some of the hidden history of World War Two and his own family.  

This year’s shared reading project comes as Manchester celebrates ‘2022 Our Year’ – a citywide campaign to ensure a year of opportunity for children and young people – to help redress the balance and make up for the last two years of lockdowns during Covid.

Councillor Shazia Butt, Deputy Executive Member for Early Years, Children and Young People, Manchester City Council, said: “Our transition read project has proved a great hit over the last couple of years during Covid with pupils and teachers.  We’re hoping it will again this year and that every child who’s just left primary school will join in and enjoy reading the same book as their friends, and that this shared experience will also help them make some new friends when they start at high school in September.”

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