Volunteers are tackling the crisis of one in four children being unable to read properly by the time they leave primary school at age 11.

The Bookmark Reading charity is coming to schools in Barking and Dagenham to help raise reading standards where some pupils might be falling behind.

It is also recruiting volunteers to give one-to-one help for youngsters who are not keeping up with their reading.

“We are identifying schools to work with in Barking and Dagenham,” the charity’s marketing head Rebecca Roberts said.

“More than one in four children leave primary school unable to read well. It has disadvantaged children who are disproportionately impacted.

“This is all about helping children discover the joy and love of storytelling.”

Bookmark Reading is a national literacy charity helping children who need to read efficiently to help with their education.

It recruits volunteers to give one-to-one sessions in person and through an online platform to support a “whole school reading culture” by investing in books, libraries and training.

The charity set up in 2018 takes on volunteers to go into the classroom to help youngsters who may otherwise end up unable to read sufficiently by the time they reach secondary education.

It began in a few Tower Hamlets schools in 2019 and within a year was in demand across London.

Bookmark’s CEO Emily Jack said: “We are really looking forward to working with schools across Barking & Dagenham.

"The Your Story Corner programme can make a huge impact on a schools’ reading culture and our volunteers are able to give children that additional one-to-one support to transform their joy of reading, which we know can have a significant impact on their confidence, wellbeing and achievement now and further on in their lives.”

But the mission was hit by the pandemic in 2020 when many schools had to close. The campaign rebooted in 2021 at schools in Neasden and Harlesden in north west London and is now coming to Barking and Dagenham.

Applications are now open for state primary schools in Barking and Dagenham to apply by February 29 to get £2,000 worth of new books and resources for children aged five to ten and an annual subscription to The Story Corner magazine. 

Bookmark runs a programme for volunteers to visit their nearest school twice a week for six weeks, helping children aged five to eight develop reading skills and self confidence.

Volunteers are being urged to call 020 3995 7960, go to the charity’s bookmarkreading.org website to sign up, or email info@bookmarkreading.org to 'start a new chapter in 2024'.