Volunteers have been running one-one-one reading sessions in schools to get youngsters ready to go on to secondary education next term.

The weekly sessions stated last month in 50 primary schools in Barking and Dagenham and are aimed at improving reading standards for youngsters who are falling behind.   

New books were delivered to the primary schools by the national Bookmark Reading charity last month.

Children’s author Laura Mucha visited Southwood Primary in Dagenham which was given 200 new books for the school library worth £2,000.

“We’ve been delving behind the scenes at Southwood Primary to see how books are made and writing a poem together,” Laura said. “The work with the Bookmark charity can help build excitement about reading and the children’s own creative writing.”

Around one-in-four youngsters are not fluent readers by the time they enter secondary education, the charity says.

Yet reading for pleasure is “the single biggest indicator of a child’s future success”, more than family circumstances, parents’ educational background or income, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Mayor Donna Lumsden, who also dropped in at Southwood Primary, is hoping more volunteers join the charity to run reading sessions to help children get up to scratch.

She wants pupils to develop a reading culture to help tackle the numbers leaving primary school at 11 unable to read well.

The schools are taking part in a reading programme run by volunteers with two 30-minute sessions each week over six weeks, one-to-one with a child aged five to 10, to improve reading ability. The youngsters read stories and improve their skills with games designed to help change their lives.

Bookmark Reading charity’s chief executive Emily Jack said: “We hope delivering books to the 50 schools gives children the chance to discover the joy of reading.”

Volunteers willing to help a school in their area once a week with reading sessions are being urged to call the charity on 020 3995 7960 or email info@bookmarkreading.org.

The reading programme is aimed at improving essential literacy skills and “motivating young minds to enjoy reading”.