A delighted mum got to meet her childhood hero when he visited a Kent school to celebrate pupils’ reading success.
Rachel Phillips and her daughter Erin, eight, met children’s author and illustrator Nick Butterworth at Lunsford Primary School – and Rachel brought a book for him to sign that she had had since she was six.
Pupils at the school in Swallow Road, Larkfield, Aylesford, won the visit as a prize through home reading scheme Buster’s Book Club.
The scheme encourages children to read at home through competitions and rewards. Classes compete against each other to see who can read the most, with prizes and trophies up for grabs.
Mr Butterworth spent a whole day last week at the school, reading stories to pupils, signing books, and talking to parents about the importance of reading.
Deputy head teacher Elizabeth Lomax said: “Reading underpins everything we do at Lunsford, and Buster’s Book Club has really helped us to raise the profile of reading.
“It engages all the children, it motivates them, and they really like the competitive element.”
As with all participating schools, each child is set a home reading target of a certain number of minutes, and the amount of reading they have managed to do is recorded every Wednesday. A reading class of the week trophy is given out at the end of each week.
Teacher Lauren Wickison said: “Since we started Buster’s, there’s been an increase in reading across all year groups, for both boys and girls.”
Mr Butterworth’s first children’s book, B B Blacksheep and Company, was published in 1981. Since then his books have sold 15 million copies in 30 languages worldwide.
His books include QPootle5, Tiger and The Whisperer and he is well known for his stories about Percy the Parkkeeper, which was made into an animated TV series with Jim Broadbent voicing the title role.
Mr Butterworth said: “I’ve had a fantastic day. It’s been great meeting all the children, and especially Elephant Class, because they have done so well with their reading. They’re five and six years old, and they have put in so much work.
“I’m sure they’ve benefited so much from all the reading they’ve done, and I hope they’re going to carry on reading and enjoying books forever.”
He added: “If you get on with your reading as well as they have, it could be your school I’m coming to next!”
Buster’s Book Club is supported by Orbit, Golding Vision, Kent Libraries, Leeds Castle, Kent County Council, Medway Council, London Borough of Bexley, Three R’s Teacher Recruitment, Kent Reliance, Whitefriars, Specsavers, Eurostar, and Bel UK.