Reading rockets take a trip to Santa’s Grotto

Santa meets Truro Class from Herne CofE Juniors at Whitefriars’ Christmas Market.

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Youngsters with a passion for books won a magical visit to Santa after taking the top spot in a home reading competition.

The triumphant Truro Class from Herne CofE Junior School received their festive treat at Whitefriars’ sparkling Christmas Market in Canterbury.

They were greeted by a Christmas fairy who led into the grotto to complete a gingerbread man craft activity. Then it was over to Santa’s cosy sitting room to tell him what gifts they wanted to find under their tree on Christmas morning.

Santa dished out presents – and high fives – and praised the youngsters for their love of reading.

The competition was open to schools taking part in reading reward scheme Buster’s Book Club with Truro Class achieving the most impressive number of reading minutes.

Esther Copeman from Whitefriars said she was excited to welcome the children to the Christmas Market and described them as “amazing” for their enthusiasm for reading.

Class teacher, Carla Oakley, said: “The children absolutely love Buster’s. It was introduced about a year ago and it’s very, very, very competitive in our school!

“We record the minutes each Wednesday and not only is it recorded across the whole school we have inter-year competitions as well, so my class always want to win in Year 3. It’s very competitive because Year 5 usually read the most minutes, so Year 3 are determined that they are going to read the most!

“Every Wednesday we remind them and they get very excited when we tell them how many minutes they’ve read. It’s that little bit of an extra incentive that they absolutely love.”

Buster’s Book Club is run by children’s educational charity the KM Charity Team and supported by organisations including Rotary, Acorns Read and Grow, Crown Foundation, Orbit, Little Cheyne Court, Kent Community Foundation, Golding Vision (part of Golding Homes), Medway Council, Kent County Council, Specsavers, Leeds Castle, Diggerland, Hornby, and Wildwood.

The reading reward scheme encourages whole classes to work together to achieve their home reading minutes in a bid to win the Reading Class of the Week Trophy.

Children can read by themselves, to a parent or guardian, listen to an audio book, or a combination of all three.

Monthly inter-school competitions offer the top or most improved classes prizes such as tickets to leisure attractions and school visits by celebrity storytellers.

The literacy initiative operates from January to December each year. Schools can find out more, or register for 2019, at or by contacting Kay Devine at or on 0844 264 0291.

Santa’s Grotto at Whitefriars is open until 24 December (apart from December 3, 4, 10 and 11). Admission is £4, includes craft activity, gift and a chat with the big man himself! Visits must be booked in advance at

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