Scheme to give books to under fives expands

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A CHARITY which has already given away 3,000 books to young children in Bradford is expanding to a new area of the city.

Canterbury Imagine already provides free books for under-fives on the deprived Canterbury estate in the city and for the district’s children who are in local authority care.

Now it is starting a new scheme based around Midland Road nursery school and children’s centre in the Manningham area.

The scheme sees the babies and children who are registered with it sent a free book once a month from their birth until their fifth birthday.

It aims to ensure children develop a love of books from an early age and give parents and carers the chance to bond with children by reading stories together.

The Canterbury Imagine charity launched its scheme on the Canterbury estate in September 2012 and in just 18 months has registered around 350 children to its two schemes, and provided 3,000 free books. The idea behind the scheme is that children build up their own ‘imagination library’ of up to 60 quality books, suitable for their age.

It is affiliated to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, the scheme set up by the country singer, and is the first imagination library in West Yorkshire.

Canterbury Imagine’s founder Jan Winter said she was delighted the scheme was expanding. She has also given her support to The Yorkshire Post’s Turning the Page campaign. We aim to explore why standards of reading and writing being achieved in the region’s schools lag behind the rest of the country. It also aims to promote a love of reading and writing among young people.

She said: “The idea of engendering a love of reading at an early age is central to what we do as a charity so I think the Yorkshire Post’s Turning the Page Campaign can be really important.

“Getting children to read to and to get use to literacy at a young age is not only a great way for parents to bond with their child but is also a way out of poverty for some children.

“It is important that we do not wait for children to fall behind once they are in school but do all we can from an early age.

“Building a love of reading early in the lives of children will pay dividends as they progress through school and into adult life.

“The bonding experience which comes from sharing a book with a baby or young child also helps their emotional development, so we hope that carers and children alike will really enjoy using these lovely books.”

The Canterbury Imagine scheme is cost-effective, with £25 paying for a book every month for a year for one child. Mrs Winter, who is a lecturer at Leeds Trinity University, said Canterbury Imagine aimed to improve literacy, emotional development, educational attainment and life chances of the children it is supporting.

The Midland Road Centre, next door to Bradford City football stadium, has more than 1,000 children under the age of five in its catchment area who could benefit from the scheme. The centre will host a launch party on Thursday, with BBC Look North’s presenter Nicola Rees as a guest.

Midland Road’s head Sharon Hogan said the idea of books being delivered by post every month was a real strength of the project, and sessions at the centre would also encourage parents and carers to enjoy sharing books with their babies. She said: “A key aim of our work as a nursery school and Children’s Centre is to try to ensure that parents have the right support so that they can be involved in their children’s learning. Books provide the opportunity for parents to support young children’s development in so many different ways so governors are thrilled that Midland Road is part of the expansion of Canterbury Imagine.”

Babies born this year in the Midland Road area will be registered to receive free books.

THE YORKSHIRE POST Inspiring Young Writers competition is looking for pupils to tell us their stories.

There will be three categories for young writers up to the age of 11, 14, and 16.

Entries must begin with the opening line: “The time had come and there was no turning back.”

Entries can be sent via email to: turningthepage@jpress.co.uk and titled Inspiring Young Writers or by post to Inspiring Young Writers c/o John Roberts, Education Correspondent, Yorkshire Post, No 1 Leeds, 26 Whitehall Road, Leeds, LS12 1BE.

Entries should have the author’s name, address, age and a telephone number. The deadline is May 17.