Liverpool-based charity The Reader, which uses the power of literature and reading aloud to transform lives across the UK, is calling for donations to help it reach a £10,000 festive fundraising target. Funds raised will support the First Page project, its work reading with children and their families across the North West.
Reading enjoyment has been reported as more important for children’s educational success than their family’s socio-economic status (OECD, 2002). However, a recent study by the children’s publisher Ladybird found that 33% of parents with children under five wished they had more confidence to read with their child.
Delivered since 2018, First Page has reached over 14,200 adults and children in the Liverpool City Region and North West alongside project partners including Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Liverpool City Council Children’s Centres, The Whitechapel Centre, Home Start, Kinship Carers, Refugee Women Connect, and Save the Family.
The project comprises four strands: Stories for You and Yours builds the confidence of adults who were never read to as a child, or who struggle with reading now. Sharing Stories in the Early Years provides a full day of training, plus books and rhyme bags to partner organisations to deliver sessions in the community. Books and Babies is a four-week group course for parents and carers using song, rhyme, puppetry and interaction to build reading skills. Family Fun Days invite children and carers to a session at the Storybarn – The Reader’s dedicated play space in Liverpool’s Calderstones Park – including refreshments, transport and a book for each child to take home.
100% of First Page participants surveyed agreed that the project helped their child to build a positive relationship with books and reading and 100% of parents said they wanted to spend more time reading with their child as a result of taking part. The Christmas Appeal asks for donations this Christmas to help bring the benefits of reading to even more people across the region.
Katie Clark, Director of Literature at The Reader said: “We are so proud of the positive impact that First Page has delivered already across the North West, and this Christmas Appeal will allow us to reach even more vulnerable families and young children.
We know that providing access to books and reading from a young age not only builds essential skills like confidence and communication, but it also brings joy and connection and that feels more important now than ever. The standout for me from this work is the benefit to both the children and the adults who are caring for them in often very difficult or sad circumstances, and though much of the joy comes from the books themselves, it also comes from feeling the connection and building of bonds that happens when we read together.”
Kara Orford, Head of Children and Young People at The Reader said: “To be able to provide carers with the time and space to connect with their little ones and share the magic of stories feels like such a joy. Whether it’s a workshop for carers led by a member of Reader staff, a stomp around Calderstones Park and a trip to The Storybarn, or story sharing training for our community partners, the First Page project does such brilliant work to instil a love of reading for pleasure at the earliest possible opportunity.”
Paul Cottier, Family Link Worker at Belle Vale, Hunts Cross and Mossley Hill Children’s Centre said: “We have worked in partnership with First Page for a number of years and I have welcomed the constant support that I have received from the workers. Shared Reading is an important part of the sessions with the encouragement to parents and carers to feel more comfortable in using books with their children at home as well as using local resources such as the local library and the Storybarn. I am very grateful to know that we are working alongside First Page.”
Supporters are being asked to donate online on The Reader website, at The Reader’s Calderstones Park venues The Mansion House, Storybarn and Ice Cream Parlour, or by signing up to the charity’s first Sponsored Readathon using Just Giving. Children or adults can set a reading challenge for themselves over the festive period with their school, as part of a group or as an individual.
All donations raised through the Christmas Appeal will be used to recruit, train and support volunteers, work in partnership with other services to expand the project’s reach, provide resources, and create more opportunities for helping children and their families discover the joy of reading.