Families across Bristol receive free books through Stories at Home: IMG 20200423 143734 - Joe Simms

06 May 2020

Education, Learning and Skills

Families across Bristol receive free books through Stories at Home

Stories at Home is a new initiative which provides books for vulnerable families during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Thousands of books are being gifted to families via Food Clubs and Foodbanks across Bristol, and also by collection at specific Nursery Schools, Children’s Centres and Primary Schools, supporting parents and carers to improve childhood literacy. Some doorstep drops are also being made by Family Support workers, teachers and the Bristol City Robins Foundation.

Over 8000 books suitable for kids aged 0-12 months to age-11 have been generously donated by publishers, charities and other organisations including BookTrust, Hargreaves Lansdown and Phoenix Comics.

Councillor Anna Keen, Cabinet Lead for Education and Skills, said she welcomes this positive initiative which comes at a challenging time for many families in Bristol.

She said: “We know that some families will have few or no books at home, and now have no access to books because schools, nurseries and libraries are closed due to the Covid-19 response.

“This new initiative encourages children of all ages to take pleasure in discovering new books and reading. We know that reading, especially from an early age, is important because it fosters life-long reading habits. With these habits come literacy skills and a love of exploring the world through the written word.”

According to the National Literacy Trust, 1 in 8 disadvantaged children do not own a book, yet book ownership is significantly linked to increased reading ability and reading for pleasure.

Ruth Cochrane, a Community Development Co-ordinator from Hannah More primary school said it is rewarding seeing families who rely on school libraries being able to access new books through Stories at Home.

She said: “In Lawrence Hill we have lots of families in need who would usually borrow books for their children, so to be able to continue to provide them with books has been amazing.

“Teachers from our school are talking to students about what books they have received from Stories at Home and using it as a tool for learning – it’s a really positive project in our community.”

Bristol actor, Joe Sims is volunteering for Stories at Home, delivering books to families across the city, and his fundraising organisation 500 Reasons, have donated £500 worth of books to the project.

He said: “It’s such a pleasure to be involved with Stories At Home - reading as a family empowers learning at home, it empowers parents to reinforce good literacy skills and helps families build creative memories together.

“So often children from more vulnerable families struggle to catch-up when they’ve had to take time out of school - this initiative is a massive step towards helping these brilliant kids enjoy reading and stay engaged with learning.”

Stories at Home are looking for more people to sponsor the project and provide books, contact us via email at coronavirus@bristol.gov.uk if you can help.