Find a Christmas gift for all at The Reader

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There’s no hiding from it anymore, Christmas is coming. But don’t panic, we’ve got bookish gifts all wrapped up!

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We’re Going On a Bear Hunt with The Storybarn!

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The Storybarn bring Michael Rosen’s interactive experience Bear Hunt, Chocolate Cake & Bad Things to the heart of Liverpool.

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In which classic children’s book do you really belong?

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It’s Children’s Book Week! Find out which classic children’s book character you’re really, most like.

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Books about Bereavement: How to help children understand bereavement

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It is one of life’s sad certainties that children will experience grief at some point, we’ve collected together some great literature that can help children understand bereavement.

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Our top 5 tips for reading with young children

When it comes to reading with young children, sometimes it’s hard to know where to start or how to make it a fun bonding experience you’ll want to share again and again. But don’t worry, help is at hand with our top 5 tips!

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Happy World Book Day from The Reader

Happy World Book Day! We were delighted to start celebrating the day by appearing on BBC Breakfast talking about the importance of reading for pleasure. Here’s The Reader’s very own Sophie Clarke on the BBC Breakfast sofa with Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell.

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From Robert Lyon, Communications Intern

World Book Day has arrived! Once again millions of children and adults will come together to celebrate books in all their glory. A day to recognise a host of books, authors, illustrators and the readers themselves, World Book Day is celebrated with a host of events across the country. One of the longest standing features of World Book Day is of course the £1 short stories that are available to buy in stores from today. This year you have the option of enjoying:
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Kipper’s Visitor by Mark Inkpen;
Supertato: Hap-Pea Ever After by Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet;
Daisy and the Trouble With Jack by Kes Gray;
The Great Mouse Plot by Roald Dahl;
Welcome to the World of Norm by Jonathan Meres;
Star Wars: Adventures in Wild Space by Cavan Scott;
Harper and the Sea of Secrets by Cerrie Burnell;
The Boy Who Could Do What He Liked by David Baddiel;
Spot the Difference by Juno Dawson;
Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell.

Schools all over the country will be distributing their £1 World Book Day tokens that get you any one of these fantastic titles or £1 off any other book you may want to buy.

At The Reader and The Storybarn we have been running a competition that allows children from across Liverpool and the local area to send in a drawing of what they love about their favourite book with the hopes of winning the prize of a free day at The Storybarn for their class. The response has been amazing with masses of bright and creative drawings gracing the walls of The Reader office as we struggle to pick a winner. The winner is being picked out later today and the lucky child and his or her class will soon make a trip to the wonderful Storybarn! Have a look at some of the brilliant entries over on The Storybarn’s website, with the shortlist also being featured on the Liverpool ECHO site.

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Happy World Book Day from The Storybarn!

A major theme of every World Book Day, to children’s delight, is of course the fancy dress! All over the country on World Book Day children will be dressing up as their favourite book characters. The Storybarn gives children the chance to step into an interactive storytelling environment – including getting the chance to delve into the story-inspired dressing-up box –  and this will continue on World Book Day! Tickets are available for a day of fun and imagination while encouraging reading on World Book Day 2016.

Coming Soon: The Storybarn and The Wonderful World of Oliver Jeffers

Storybarn-Website resize 1Christmas may be fast approaching, but we’re already looking forward to opening up the doors of a very special interactive story space in the New Year…

The Storybarn, located at our Head Office at Calderstones, is Liverpool’s first children’s literature centre, giving families and young people a place to play, learn and discover the magic, pleasure and imagination that comes from stories. Our Storybarn team have been busy over the past few months creating some exciting things inside and The Storybarn will be ready to explore from February 2016, alongside a very special exhibition arriving at Calderstones Mansion.

Once There Was…The Wonderful World of Oliver Jeffers will let visitors to Calderstones into the stories of popular children’s artist and illustrator Oliver Jeffers from Monday 8th February – Monday 18th April 2016. Created, designed and produced by Discover Children’s Story Centre, the immersive exhibition is designed especially for children aged 3-6 and allows children and families to walk through environments inspired by books including How to Catch a Star, Lost and Found, Up and Down and The Way Back Home. Key aspects of these beautiful books have been reimagined into 3D such as the South Pole, the boy’s bedroom, a garden featuring a rocket, a street of magical shops and a Lost and Found Office.

Oliver Jeffers 1Once ticketholders have explored The Wonderful World of Oliver Jeffers at the Mansion, they’ll be able to head across to The Storybarn to be one of the first to experience the interactive story space inside. Storytellers will bring the barn to life with a variety of tales and craft activity throughout their visitor experience.

Tickets for both experiences will go on sale in January 2016, but those wishing to gain priority booking can register their interest now at www.thestorybarn.org.uk

Tickets to both experiences will be £9 per child including a free adult for an hour in each space. Once the Oliver Jeffers exhibition has closed entry to the Storybarn will be £5 per child with group rates available for large parties and schools. Tickets for the exhibitions cannot be purchased separately.

For more information about The Storybarn, visit http://www.thereader.org.uk/calderstones/storybarn or follow @caldiessb on Twitter.

Reading with Looked After Children in Wirral: Pudsey approved!

Say hello to a certain someone our Wirral team discovered on their travels...
Say hello to a certain someone our Wirral team discovered on their travels…

BBC’s annual Children in Need appeal takes place this Friday, so there’s no need to be alarmed if you spot a sudden surge of fluffy yellow bear ear-wearing individuals. Just last week, we happened to come across a VIB (very special Bear) at MediaCityUK…

Earlier this year, we were awarded a grant from Children in Need to fund our project reading with Looked After Children in Wirral. Our previous work with Looked After Children across Merseyside has shown how reading for pleasure can bring a variety of benefits, not least in creating a safe environment in which young people can engage with literature that relates to them.

“I love this, I want it to go on forever” – a Looked After Child reading with us as part of our pilot project

By reading one-on-one with a project worker or volunteer in a familiar setting, children are able to expand their imaginations and discover new possibilities. Not only does our shared reading approach encourage a love for reading for the sheer fun of doing so, but also allows young people to reflect on the experiences of the characters they encounter, stimulating a greater sense of empathy and understanding.  Making children excited about books in their own space often gives the incentive of wanting to read more, and so we’ve found that confidence with literacy increases, as does general self-esteem.

For some children, reading can offer a support unavailable elsewhere – a way of getting to grips with their emotions and providing a safe domain through which their voice can be heard, and in some cases found. The connection between reading and wellbeing allows for a retreat from the stresses of everyday life and an escape into another world. This was true for Liam, who took part in one of our previous projects:

“The support of reading together was apparent another week, when Liam looked like he’d been crying and his carer said he had not had a good day in school. He did not want to talk to me about it, but he did feel like reading. We got absorbed in the story together, and by the end he looked much happier. I asked him if he felt better than before the session and he said he did, which was very rewarding.”

Over the next three years, we’ll be able to create more of these reading experiences for over 100 young people aged between 5-15 on the Wirral thanks to the funding received by Children in Need. We’ve already started to recruit volunteers who will be matched with a child for one-to-one reading sessions in foster and care homes. After six months, young people will be able to continue by taking part in group sessions with their peers, encouraging friendships to be formed as well as their love of reading to grow.

For more information about our Wirral Looked After Children project, see our website or contact Charlie Kelly, Looked After Children Volunteer Coordinator: charliekelly@thereader.org.uk

Read more of our Reader Stories from Looked After Children in some of our previous projects:

W’s Reader Story
P’s Reader Story

The Story Box Breakfast – celebrating our Nurseries project

By Vish Amarasinghe, Communications Intern

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The Lord Mayor of Liverpool reads to the young readers from our Nurseries project

Today marks a week since The Reader celebrated its fruitful shared reading project across nurseries in Liverpool. For the past nine months, we have worked with 37 city nurseries to deliver shared reading groups, encouraging parents and their children to enjoy books and reading for pleasure in a fun, relaxed and friendly environment at a crucial stage in Early Years development. Outcomes of the project have been felt by all involved; parents have gained confidence to read aloud with their children, nursery practitioners have developed their skills in reading aloud with children, and our young readers have enjoyed some brilliant stories.

The Story Box celebration took place at the Walker Art Gallery on Thursday 8th October. Children, parents and staff from three Liverpool nurseries were in attendance, as well as very special guests the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Liverpool!

We estimate we have reached over 500 children and 100 carers through the project, while providing training to over 50 nursery practitioners. 96% of participating parents surveyed from January to May 2015 agree that they are now more confident in reading aloud to their children, and that they know more about the value of reading regularly with their children.

The project is part of the City of Readers campaign, which aims to transform Liverpool into the UK’s foremost reading city starting with the youngest readers to encourage a love of reading that will last through their lifetime. One of our project workers told us about the impact of the project on the two-year olds involved and their families:

‘A little boy who hadn’t shown any interest in reading, came over to a reader and handed a book to her to read, joining in with the book and pointing at the pictures. The nursery staff took a photograph and presented this to his Mum, who cried with happiness when she saw it because she had never seen him sat with a book before!’

Young readers meet the Storytime Penguin
Young readers meet the Story Time Penguin

We celebrated with pastries, cake, and balloons, and the highlight of it all was a special shared reading session. The Lord Mayor himself led the reading from Shh, We Have A Plan!, the superbly illustrated children’s book by Chris Haughton, to the children’s delight. Our project workers, who have been working hard across the city these past nine months, also led reading and songs. The children were entranced by the stories that were shared, and their engagement was a real testament to the success of the project.

Our Story Time Penguin mascot was a big hit with the kids, who were thrilled when they received high fives from him and when he joined in the songs and dancing, before helping the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress give out Story Time boxes filled with books, a blanket and a special penguin puppet for each nursery.

Neil Mahoney, coordinator of the Nurseries Project, told us how the end of the project is in fact the beginning of a new chapter:

“We’re delighted that not only did the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress celebrate the success of the nurseries project with us, but that the event launched our distribution of 300 Story Time Boxes in the coming weeks to participating nurseries across the city – boxes containing more than 2,000 books in total! We hope through this legacy that Story Times will continue to encourage reading for pleasure among young children and help give them the best start in life.”

The Storyboxes handed out by the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Liverpool, assisted by the Storytime Penguin
The Storyboxes handed out by the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Liverpool, assisted by the Story Time Penguin

The event was a fantastic celebration of the Nurseries Project and of all the hard work that had gone in to it. Thank you to everyone who came along!

Learn more about the impacts of our projects with children and young people, including sharing stories in Early Years, on our website: http://www.thereader.org.uk/what-we-do-and-why/education-young-people

Finding a way into reading: Alan’s Story

In the run-up to the publication of The Reader’s Annual Report 2014/15, here’s another highlight from our shared reading activity in the past year. 

Our shared reading projects with children and young people focus entirely on reading for pleasure. Even in school settings, stories are shared in an informal, interactive and engaging way to encourage an enthusiasm for reading. Alan is one of our young readers at a primary school in Liverpool, where we have been working in partnership with City of Readers.

Alan, along with twenty other year 3 and 4 pupils, attended the first shared reading session which we ran at a local primary school as part of the Reading Revolutionaries Roadshow. As the group were new to the training course and shared reading model we explained that if students felt too shy or anxious to ask any questions out loud, they could write their questions on a post it note, in which we would address and respond to after the morning break.

We read Oh No George! by Chris Haughton and a lively discussion ensued with lots of the pupils relaying stories about their naughty pets. The group were totally engrossed and all participated in shouting out ‘OH NO GEORGE!’

One group member stated:

“It’s hard when you’re told not to do something though, because it makes you want to do it even more. Like George…I bet he wasn’t even thinking about eating the cake or the playing in the mud, but as soon as he’s told to ‘be good!’ they’re his first thoughts. I’m like that too…like George…as soon as I’m told I ‘can’t’ that’s when I ‘want’.”

After we finished reading, Alan, who had been mostly quiet for the duration, approached me and stated that he had made a mistake with his question on his Post It note and needed to ‘fix it’. We went through the notes until we found his Post It which read ‘I don’t read anything’. He took his note and came up to me around ten minutes later with a new submission which read ‘Did George go in the bin or not? Would George be good next time or not?’

In one twenty minute shared reading session Alan had transformed from a self defined ‘non reader’ to an inquisitive and interested literary thinker.

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Alan’s amended Post It note after reading Oh No George!