In the countdown to Christmas, award-winning author, Katya Balen has launched an ‘advent calendar’ style free read along this December.
Her new 24-part Christmas book series, ‘Ruby’s Christmas Adventure’, will be free for primary schools and help children develop a passion for reading. As part of this, Katya will also be hosting a virtual livestreamed, read along event on Friday 9 December at 9.30am, in which she is inviting as many pupils as possible to take part.
Starting 1 December, schools across the UK will be able to access the books for free. Exclusively published and available on the Pickatale app, each day, teachers will be given access to the next book in the series. On day nine, schools will have the chance for classes to listen to Katya read the story live to children across the country and read alongside her.
The fictional series explores the story of a Ruby Jones, a young girl who startles a very special visitor on Christmas Eve, and is accidentally sprinkled with magic soot, shrinking her to two inches tall. Along with a host of festive new friends, Ruby sets off on a very big Christmas adventure. By participating, pupils can follow the entire book series throughout December and join Ruby on her exciting adventure.
Katya Balen, author of Ruby’s Christmas Adventure, said: “Stories wove their way through my earliest days and memories; reading by myself and with others is certainly what made me a writer.
“This new Christmas series has been developed as a gift to children everywhere to help them engage in reading for pleasure. Reading is not just one experience – it becomes part of you. You are a chain of books that stretch back to your first days and on towards your last ones. The stories build you, they make you understand, they connect you to your family, your friends, your life, your culture, to other worlds and other people and other lives.
“That’s why we’d love as many schools as possible to take part in the read along, share some festive cheer and get children excited about reading!”
Lucy Mackay-Sim, Senior Commissioning Editor at Pickatale, said: “The importance of reading for pleasure as part of a child’s journey has been studied extensively and is something we are incredibly passionate about helping schools and families facilitate so that children can excel academically, socially and emotionally.
“We want to empower children to choose what they want to read, dive into new worlds, learn about characters and nurture their enjoyment of reading. We are thrilled to have partnered with Katya and share her passion for unlocking the reading potential of the next generation and help children discover that reading can be an enormous source of pleasure. Let the Christmas reading countdown begin!”
Miss L Trelfa, headteacher at Micklehurst All Saints CofE Primary School, said: “It is a great tool to increase reading for pleasure and encourage children to read. Parents have commented on how it increases their child’s interest in reading and some of our most reluctant readers are finding books that they are excited to read and are learning new knowledge. We can’t wait to take part in the Christmas read along!”
Katya Balen has received various awards and recognitions for her writing, including The Sunday Times Children’s Book of the Week for her debut children’s novel ‘The Space We’re In’, and more recently 2022 winning both the YOTO Carnegie Medal and the Shadowers’ Choice Award for her second novel, ‘October, October’.
Pickatale has more than 1,500 children’s classics, brands like Disney, Sweet Cherry and Oxford University Press, and beloved characters from Spiderman to Sherlock Holmes within its online library.
Schools can access Ruby’s Christmas Adventure via the free Pickatale app and can register for the live stream on 9 December by visiting: lp.pickatale.com/festive-read-along.