The Reader, a Liverpool-based charity that uses the power of literature and reading aloud to transform lives across the UK, is seeking donations to help it reach a £10,000 holiday fundraising goal. The funds raised will benefit the First Page project and its work with children and families throughout the North West.
According to the OECD, reading enjoyment is more important for children’s educational success than their family’s socioeconomic status (OECD, 2002). However, according to a recent study conducted by the children’s publisher Ladybird, 33% of parents with children under the age of five wish they had more confidence to read with their child.
Since its inception in 2018, First Page has served over 14,200 adults and children in the Liverpool City Region and the North West, in collaboration with project partners such as 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 is divided into four sections:Adults who were never read to as children or who struggle with reading now can benefit from Stories for You and Yours.Sharing Stories in the Early Years offers a full day of training as well as books and rhyme bags for partner organisations to use in community sessions. Books and Babies is a four-week group course for parents and carers that teaches reading skills through song, rhyme, puppetry, and interaction.Family Fun Days invite children and carers to a session at The Reader’s dedicated play space in Liverpool’s Calderstones Park, which includes refreshments, transportation, and a book for each child to take home.
The project helped 100% of First Page participants agree that it helped their child develop 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 participating. This Christmas, the Christmas Appeal is asking for donations to help bring the benefits of reading to even more people in 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.”
Donations can be made online here, or in person at The Reader’s Calderstones Park venues, The Mansion House, Storybarn, and Ice Cream Parlour, or by signing up for the charity’s first sponsored readathon through Just Giving. Children and adults alike can set a reading challenge for themselves over the holiday season, either as part of a group or as an individual.
All funds raised through the Christmas Appeal will be used to recruit, train, and support volunteers, as well as to collaborate with other services to broaden the project’s reach, provide resources, and create more opportunities for children and their families to discover the joy of reading.