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2 Mar 2015

Alumnus honoured for his outstanding contribution to reading in inaugural awards

Roderick Hunt with Dick Foch, Managing Director of Renaissance Learning.

A former Chester student has been presented with an Outstanding Contribution Award for his contribution to children’s literacy.

Roderick Hunt, who was a student at the then Chester College in 1958 was the first ever recipient of the accolade in the What Kids Are Reading Awards.

The seventh annual What Kids Are Reading report was published in February, giving a unique insight into the reading habits of students in UK schools. For the first time, the 2015 report launch was accompanied by the What Kids Are Reading Awards.

At a ceremony held on a cruise on the River Thames, awards were presented for the most popular books for primary and for secondary students, according to the votes cast by students using Accelerated Reader; a tool used for monitoring and managing independent reading practice .

More than 500,000 students across the country cast their votes for the books they enjoyed the most when they took reading practice quizzes with Accelerated Reader this past year. The results were tallied to determine the most popular book for primary- and secondary-aged students.

Roderick Hunt, along with co-creator Alex Brychta, is responsible for the ever-popular Magic Key books in the Oxford Reading Tree programme. Biff, Chip, Kipper and Floppy have a ubiquitous presence in classrooms and libraries up and down the country, and have helped countless children in their early years of becoming fluent and enthusiastic readers. This award recognises the outstanding contribution Roderick has made over the 30 years since the original Magic Key books were first published in 1985.

On receiving his award at the ceremony, Roderick commented on the central importance literacy has for learning: “I am honoured to be the first recipient of the What Kids Are Reading Outstanding Contribution Award. Literacy is vital to the intellectual health of the nation. Becoming a fluent and committed reader should be our gift to every child.

“Rarely, if ever, have books been more appealing, more engaging and more varied; but never before has reading had to compete with the enticing and beguiling attractions of the digital world. All power to programmes like Accelerated Reader that monitor, motivate and extend a child’s progress into the rich and magical world of reading. If the Oxford Reading Tree stories play a small part in that progression, I am overjoyed.”

Other winners included:

Most popular book – Primary

Demon Dentist by David Walliams

Most popular book - Secondary

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

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