It’s not a book. It’s a doorway. By Gemma Malley

Over the coming months The Read Quarterly is going to follow the work of BookTrust.  We shall explore their wonderful (and creative) initiatives as they work tirelessly to encourage people to find joy, satisfaction, information and meaning in reading.  From Children’s Laureate to YALC, from free books for babies to encouraging parents and carers to read with their children BookTrust’s work really does reach readers of all ages, and all reading abilities.

Based in London the work they do is national and they are the largest reading charity in the UK.  They give out over two million carefully chosen books to children throughout the UK. Every parent receives a Book Trust book in their baby’s first year.  Their  books, guidance and resources are delivered via health, library, schools and early years practitioners, and are supported with advice and resources to encourage the reading habit.  Here is an introduction to the organisation by Gemma Malley, Director of Marketing, Communications and Engagement.

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Reading matters. We all know that. We know that children who read will have richer lives with far better outcomes. Reading opens doors, brings knowledge, empathy, confidence, vocabulary; it transports us to new worlds, calms us, excites and thrills us (and occasionally makes us bang our head against a hard wall). But when we say that reading matters, what exactly do we mean? Is it that children should be able to read, or is it more than that?

At BookTrust, we know that the answer is ‘more’ – much more. Children who read for pleasure – that is, children who choose to read, who enjoy reading, who are not intimidated by the prospect of reading – see their life chances far outstrip those who can simply decode. In fact reading for pleasure is a more accurate predicator of life chances than socio-economic factors. Which is why our mission is to encourage and inspire children to read. We want people to see reading as an aspiration that’s as important as ‘eat your five a day’. We want bedtime stories to be at the heart of family life, and we want children everywhere to see books as their ally, not something to be feared.

BookTrust works at scale – our  nationwide programmes get books and guidance to families across the country at key points in children’s development (for instance, our flagship Bookstart programme which reaches every child before their first birthday), encouraging parents and carers to read with their children, share stories and encourage a life-long love of reading. We also provide targeted programmes for those who need additional support. We work with local authorities, health visitors, libraries, early years settings, schools and more to ensure that families have access to inspiring books, understand the importance of shared reading, and are helped to ensure that reading becomes part of family life. We also campaign, and  provide guidance on great books – books that will excite and engage children of all ages.

Funded by a mixture of Arts Council grants, corporate donations and individual giving, BookTrust works tirelessly to ensure that no child grows up without experiencing the joy of stories, the knowledge that comes from reading, or the opportunities that come from reading confidently. We like to say that a book is not a book – it’s a doorway. We hope you’ll support us in opening as many doors as possible.

Follow bookTrust on twitter @Booktrust and visit their website www.booktrust.org.uk

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