Budding bookworm: Hackney 8-year-old racks up 13,000 minutes of reading in 26 days to scoop global prize

Roux Solgun. Picture: Achievement for All

Roux Solgun. Picture: Achievement for All - Credit: Archant

An eight-year-old from Hackney has earnt global recognition for spending nearly 13,000 minutes reading in just 26 days.

Roux Solgun won £500 of books for his efforts as part of a reading marathon that saw half a million young people take part.

The challenge attempted to amass 200million minutes of reading in 26 days - a feat never recorded before - between children from the UK, France, Italy, America, Canada, India and Australia.

It started on World Book Day (March 7) and finished on Children's Book Day (April 2).

While the challenge fell short of its overall target, its total of 140m minutes still far eclipsed the 2018 attempt of 100m.

Roux was a standout performer among his fellow bookworms and was chuffed with his award.

He said: "It was fun counting up the minutes we read and it definitely made reading fun.

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"We finished so many books during the reading challenge and my sister can actually read now and she's only four."

The challenge run by Achievement for All hosted assemblies, teddy bear picnics, reading events and competitions in thousands of schools.

Achievement for All chief exec Prof Sonia Blandford said: "It's vital that we introduce children and young people to the habit of reading in everyday life to improve their prospects and unlock new worlds and possibilities.

"Picking up a book, newspaper, comic or magazine helps develop language skills, imagination, communication and self-esteem and what better way to start that than through our challenge?"

The event was supported by publishing company Pearson which sponsored Roux's £500 book prize.

Its head of primary English Sophie Thomson said: "Research shows how important it is that children read frequently and for pleasure, with studies demonstrating the positive impact on children's vocabulary, reading scores and well-being.

"Reading is key to unlocking learning, and it's fantastic to see through the 200 Million Minutes Reading Challenge so many children developing brilliant reading habits, the effects of which will last a lifetime."

The reading marathon raised awareness of social and economic barriers facing young people who have limited access to books.

Research from the National Literacy Trust shows one in eight disadvantaged children in the UK don't have a book of their own, while young people born into areas with the most serious literacy challenges have some of the lowest life expectancies in England.