TOMORROW night X Factor host Dermot O’Leary will be urging the public to vote in their droves for the final of the singing show.
But today he is calling on Sun readers to collect tokens for their local primary school in our Books For Schools campaign.
Dermot, 46, a children’s author himself said: “Reading is key to a good education, but it has to be an enjoyable experience.
“The Sun’s campaign is a really nice idea. Getting books into schools like this is wonderful and it’s great to think that parents and schools will work together to collect the tokens.
“For me, reading is something I couldn’t live without.
“It teaches me things I didn’t know as well as taking my mind away from the stresses and strains of normal life.”
“It never ceases to delight and amaze me how interested the children are in my books.
“They know the plot so well and ask the most intricate of questions that really get me thinking.
“Often they’ll suggest things that I haven’t even thought of. It’s fantastic to meet the children who read my books.”
Dermot has written three children’s books. The first, Toto The Ninja Cat And The Great Snake Escape was published in 2017.
He said: “The idea for Toto first came to me when my wife and I rescued two stray cats from an olive grove in Italy.
“One of them, Toto, was blind, but we quickly realised she had ninja-like reactions.
“Before I knew it I was writing about Toto and her brother Silver’s nocturnal adventures.
SEND US YOUR TOKEN STORIES
WE want to hear what YOU are doing to help your primary reach its token target.
Maybe you have designed amazing posters to remind people to look out for the tokens.
Or are you a headteacher who has offered a brilliant prize for the pupil who brings in the most Books For Schools tokens?
Or a reader who has been buying extra copies to help your local school?
Let us know. Please email your token tales – with your name, address and phone number – to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I’ve had nothing but positive responses about the books. Maybe it’s because I’m writing about animals?
“I’m definitely hoping to continue to write, but I’d never force it if the ideas weren’t there.
“In the future, I might think about writing for adults too.” An astonishing £12million pounds worth of books are up for grabs in our drive to primary schools in England, Northern Ireland and Wales.
One in 3 primary schools has signed up to collect tokens-like the one printed here today.
Registered schools which collect 3,500 tokens will be sent a box of books from the Collins Big Cat reading programme, worth more than £600.
Research shows that only a third of teenage boys in the UK say they enjoy reading but Dermot says: “I didn’t ever go through that stage of not wanting to read and I didn’t ever have to be forced to do it.
“I’ve got a natural love for the written word and read anything . . . fiction, crime, history and politics.
“I always make the time to read before I go to sleep and I get annoyed if that doesn’t happen.
“For reading to become a habit, kids need to be engaged at home and at school. It has to be a collaborative process. And for children to become readers, the books have to be there in the first place.”
After leaving Middlesex University, where he undertook a degree in media studies with politics, Dermot started as a disc jockey at BBC Essex before becoming a runner on the TV show Light Lunch.
Dermot has worked on ITV’s The X Factor since 2007 (apart from a break in 2015 when Olly Murs and Caroline Flack took over the show).
He continues: “When I was younger, Saturday night TV was a big thing.
“There wasn’t the amount of choice that there is these days but I remember sitting down with my family at the weekend.
“Television isn’t the devil, and it can be a great way to get children interested in things.
“Shows such as Our Planet which is narrated by David Attenborough is incredible.
“My niece loves watching that and it’s so good for teaching children new things in an appropriate way.”
- Toto The Ninja Cat And The Superstar Catastrophe: Book 3 by Dermot O’Leary (Hodder Children’s Books, £9.99) is out now
Find out more
IT is time to collect your Books For Schools tokens. Today’s is below.
This is what you need to do to claim your FREE books for your school.
1 Check your primary school is among the one in three that has registered at: thesun.co.uk/booksforschools
2 Help your school collect tokens from The Sun and The Sun on Sunday. Tokens will be printed EVERY DAY until Saturday, January 18, 2020. Each registered school needs to collect 3,500 tokens.
3 Once a school has amassed 3,500 tokens, it must return them by Saturday, February 8, 2020.
4 Your school will receive the books in March 2020.