Accelerated Reader user given Literacy Hero accolade at Clarence House

By Chris Jarosh
Photo of Lisa meeting the Duchess of Cornwall

Lisa Li received her award from the Duchess of Cornwall at Clarence House

When Learning Resources Manager Julie Carss heard that the National Literacy Trust was searching for Literacy Heroes, she knew that nobody deserved the award more than one of her students, Lisa Li. Lisa’s passion for reading and positive attitude towards learning meant that she had made over four years’ progress in reading within a single year. A role model for others and an ambassador for reading in the college, she is now recognised as one of ten Literacy Heroes.

Lisa joined All Saints Catholic College in September 2012 as a Year 7 student. She had moved to the UK from China only 18 months previously, with limited opportunities to practice her English. She was determined to improve her reading skills, though, so took every opportunity she could find to keep learning.

Julie Carss, who nominated Lisa for the award, was able to measure her remarkable progress with Accelerated Reader. “Lisa was a regular visitor to our library and borrowed several books every week. Our college uses the Accelerated Reader programme which she fully embraced and she had soon outshone every other pupil in her year. She became legendary. She steadily moved up the reading levels choosing more and more challenging books. Every week she appeared on the Accelerated Reader board as the pupil who had read the most words that week.”

Using AR, Julie was able to see tangible data that demonstrated Lisa’s success. In the 2012/2013 school year, Lisa read over 100 books and achieved an average per cent correct score of almost 95%. This amounted to over 4.5 million words, almost equivalent to reading War and Peace eight times. Her reading age increased from 8 years 9 months to 13 years 2 months over the course of the year. She is already on target to better her own remarkable success this year: she has already exceeded two million words read.

“Lisa’s average daily reading time was over four hours when most pupils could barely manage 15 minutes! More important than figures, however, is Lisa’s ability in the classroom. She has made the most astonishing progress and excels in all areas of the curriculum.”

Lisa hasn’t just kept her passion for reading to herself. She has made a significant impact on the wider reading culture at her college. “She is a pupil librarian, a form representative, a member of the reading and writing group and Manga group, and volunteers to listen to younger pupils reading. She helps other pupils with their book choices and remains open-minded about her own choice of books. She is a wonderful, inspirational role model to other pupils and a fantastic ambassador for the college.”

Lisa received her Literacy Hero award at a ceremony at Clarence House. Commenting on the occasion, the Duchess of Cornwall, who hosted the ceremony, said she was delighted to honour the Literacy Heroes, “all of whom have shown outstanding commitment to inspiring literacy in others, or who have made truly significant achievements themselves.”

Other members of the elite group of Literacy Heroes include JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, and Henry Winkler, who has promoted accessibility of reading for those with learning difficulties. Lisa can be particularly proud of her award because she has both achieved great success for herself, but also shared that passion with others in her school.

For Lisa, the ceremony as a once-in-a-lifetime experience. “Everywhere was so glamourous with all the portraits on the walls. When I saw the Duchess of Cornwall I felt like I was going to faint but when I talked to her I calmed down as she was really kind and down to earth.”

As well as meeting royalty, Lisa had the opportunity to meet with the star authors who had judged the awards. “I was lucky enough to meet Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands as well as some of my favourite authors. I had just finished The Enemy by Charlie Higson so I was really excited to get his autograph. We had some gorgeous food and the highlight of the day was when the Duchess of Cornwall presented me with my award. It made me feel really special and important.”

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