Ruben takes title as book bug bites
A 10-YEAR-OLD schoolboy who used to struggle to finish books has been named Young Reader of the Year after transforming his self-confidence through an education project.
Ruben Pope, from Etruria, has beaten 10,000 other children across England to win the award from the National Literacy Trust.
The youngster previously found it difficult to concentrate when he picked up a book.
But now he has become so hooked on them that he spends his spare time reading instead of playing on his Xbox.
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Ruben, a pupil at Etruscan Primary School, in Etruria, caught the book bug after taking part in a national young readers' programme through the literacy trust.
He and his school classmates attended a series of sessions at City Central Library, in Hanley, where they worked with a librarian on story activities.
Ruben said: "I got to see there were fun books at the library. We also took part in a treasure hunt, heard stories, and read books to find the answers to questions."
Each pupil was taught how to pick out a book that matched their reading level.
They were then allowed to choose two new books to take home as a memento.
Ruben said: "I got a Captain Underpants book and The Diary Of The Wimpy Kid. They were dead good.
"But the books I like the best are to do with football or Horrid Henry.
"I was reading a sports book while walking back to school from the library. We got to some traffic lights and I couldn't stop reading. I was halfway through the book.
"My teacher said, 'Stop reading!'. I've never heard a teacher say that before."
Almost 30 Etruscan pupils took part in the programme and many of them have discovered a passion for books.
Teacher Vicky Colclough said: "We're giving reading a high profile at school and are also trying to boost children's reading at home.
"The key thing for Ruben was the interaction with the library. It was as if something had clicked inside him and he became much more motivated to read.
"It has also changed his whole attitude in the classroom."
Ruben's mother, Sian, has noticed a dramatic change in him as well.
The 28-year-old said: "I'm so proud of him.
"If I'm watching a TV programme at home, he'll go and get his books out instead."
Jason Vit, manager of the National Literacy Trust's young readers' programme, said Ruben was a deserving winner.
He added: "We hope this award will encourage him to keep reading and inspire other young people to do the same."
Etruscan Primary is continuing its library links, with every class going there at least once a term.
Other strategies include getting them to work with poet Terry Caffrey and setting up a reading club.