BookTrust, the UK’s largest children’s reading charity, has been helping families across the UK to engage with books and storytelling during the Covid-19 pandemic, offering support, advice and free books to  disadvantaged families who have been hardest hit by lockdown.

Reading can be an important escape for many children, and shared reading supports language development, confidence, communication skills and resilience. However, with schools and libraries having been closed for many weeks, many children are at risk of missing out.

Working in partnership with 168 local authorities and councils throughout Northern Ireland, England and Wales, BookTrust is distributing ready-to-ship ‘care packages’ of books, tailored for early years, primary school-aged children (0-10 year olds).

Partners can use these books as gifts left on doorsteps, presents for children in their care or to use in settings which remain open at this time. These book packages are being distributed across children’s centres, schools, libraries, foodbanks, refuge centres, SEN schools and more, helping to close the gap caused by the pandemic and support families over the summer.  To date they’ve sent out over 237,269 books.

Liz Canning, Head of BookTrust NI, said: “We are all in this together, and yet the impact of this pandemic is not shared equally. Reading, and shared reading not only enables children to escape to fantasy worlds; it also supports language development, communication skills and confidence, and can be hugely reassuring in a world that for many is now very challenging. Getting books to families has always been important; now, getting them to families in struggling circumstances is absolutely mission critical.”

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