SCHOOLBOY Alexander Hewett could not believe it when the librarian at The Ridgeway School told him he had won a national prize.

The 12-year-old from Wroughton was one of more than 200,000 children across the country who took part in the Read For My School competition and came away with the top prize as the Year 7 and Year 8 winner for the writing element.

Alexander said: “The first thing I thought when the librarian told me I had won the national prize was that they were joking.

“When I realised it was true I was just ecstatic.

“I’m really happy because I really like reading and now I have quite a lot of new books.”

The youngster was awarded the prize at a special ceremony in Westminster last week after writing a letter to children in Tanzania who will receive books donated by Pearson via Book Aid International.

Coming from a family of bookworms, Alexander’s mum Louisa was very proud of his achievement.

She said: “We’re really pleased and really proud of him. He’s always loved reading and writing – that’s his thing really.

“With the Waterstones voucher and the regional prize he has about 70 new books, so that should keep him entertained for a while.”

His prize included a set of 48 books, an original illustration by children’s author and illustrator Chris Riddell, a family theatre ticket, and 100 books for his school, donated by Penguin.

Peter Hughes, head of corporate responsibility at Pearson, said: “We were very impressed with the quality of writing in this year’s competition.

“It was wonderful to read the pupils’ thoughts on how opening up a book enables them to access a whole new and exciting world to them.

“Read for My School really got schools and pupils up and down the country engaged and excited about reading and writing and we were delighted to see so many pupils reading books in all their formats.”

The Read for My School challenge is in its second year and encourages children to read as many books as they can in 10 weeks.

It was launched by Pearson with charities Booktrust and The Pearson Foundation, with support from the Department for Education, in a bid to inspire children to discover the power of reading.

For more information about the competition visit

In his letter Alexander wrote about the wonders of reading to youngsters in Tanzania. This is what he wrote:

“What do you see when you look at a book? A front cover, a back cover and pages covered in the printed word?

“Shall I tell you what I see? A book is so much more than just words.

“When you open that cover you open your soul to magic, travel worlds you never thought possible, soar through the skies, meet new people who feel like your friends and grow your world around you.

“Pick up a book and allow your soul to soar, let your imagination run free or fill your head with knowledge that helps you grow as a person.

“Knowledge is power. Imagination is thrilling.

“So curl up with a book and allow yourself to be filled with joy because there’s nothing quite like a good book.”