A public relations professional has launched a competition to get young children interested in books again, on National Read a Book Day.
Katie Mallinson, managing director of Scriba PR, is challenging under-11s from across the region to pen a short story of anything up to 250 words.
Authors of the best five tales will then be hand-picked to each win a selection of 50 books for their school, nursery or community group.
Ms Mallinson launched the initiative to ensure literacy standards don’t slip against a backdrop of ever increasing technology.
She told The Yorkshire Post: “One of the things I’m keen to stress is that with so much technological advancement, obviously digital literacy is important.
“However, we don’t believe that should be to the detriment of good English as well. We think that if you can ignite a passion for reading and writing at an early age then hopefully that will stay with people throughout their lives.
“Some people start to love books and writing as they get a little older. That’s fine. But habits are often ingrained when you’re younger. If people can enjoy it from a young age, it might stay with them.
“There are so many benefits. Studies have found well being benefits, concentration benefits. Young people can destress with the help of a book. There’s all of those peripheral advantages as well.”
Ms Mallinson did a degree in business management at the University of Huddersfield. During her studies, she did a placement at a PR agency and that’s how she ended up in the industry.
She launched her own agency in 2013 and today Huddersfield-based Scriba has a team of eight staff.
“Right down to our most junior colleague, who joined us a couple of months ago, we are all big into reading and writing and happily profess to being word nerds,” Ms Mallinson, inset, said.
Technology should not have a negative impact on literacy, the managing director of Scriba says, but the company has seen a slip in standards from applicants for junior positions in recent years.”
Ms Mallinson added: “If technology is used in the right way then standards shouldn’t fall.
“If you think about it, even in the workplace things like spellchecker technology means we should all be able to write so much more eloquently and accurately.”
She added: “It’s impossible to make a massive generalisation but we’ve certainly seen a significant drop in the last two years of people applying for junior positions here.
“The standard of the grammar is quite concerning in many respects. Obviously there are stand out candidates as there always will be.
“I just don’t want that attention to detail and that passion for the English language to be lost.”
The 250 books will be purchased using Scriba’s profits. The agency is waiting until the winners are chosen to ensure the right books are bought for the winners’ nominated school, nursery or community group.
Ms Mallinson said they would take into account the age of the entrants when judging the stories. The short stories can be on any topic the young person wants to write about and can be factual or fiction.
The closing date for the competition is September 30. The winners will be announced and the 250 books delivered by October 10.
Children are being asked to send their stories along with their name, address, age and nominated school or community group to firstname.lastname@example.org or Scriba PR, Wellington Mills, 70 Plover Road, Huddersfield, HD3 3HR.