Reading has many benefits. A National Literacy Trust survey in July 2020 found that nearly 60 per cent of children used reading to help them feel better, and 50 per cent to help them envisage a better future.
But in 2018, research found that 40,000 school children in Greater Manchester didn’t own a single book at home.
And research from the first lockdown showed that access to books had a direct impact on reading behaviour.
Children and young people who did not have their own books, or access to books they liked, read less frequently than before the first lockdown.
Now, a new fundraising campaign to support a new book-gifting initiative has been launched in the run-up to Christmas.
The Manchester Central Library Development Trust is raising funds to help the Read Manchester initiative provide books and other educational resources directly to families across the city.
Many Manchester libraries have had to temporarily close, or offer a much more limited service during the second national lockdown. And this can have a disproportionate effect on vulnerable families, who may not have access to computers and the Internet, or only limited Wi-Fi access.
“We are delighted to support the book gifting initiative at this critical time for children and their learning,” said Stephen Sorrell, chair of Manchester Central Library Development Trust.
“Support for Read Manchester will help to ensure that during the second lockdown in particular, no child should be without a single book in their home and we hope people will give what they can to help this Christmas.
“We are extremely grateful for all donations received so far, and we welcome future support.”
The scheme has been supported by ATG Access, whose staff raised £3,564 for Read Manchester’s Book Gifting initiative by completing the 3 Peaks Challenge in September, with a similar sum also donated to the Lord Mayor of Manchester’s We Love MCR Charity.
“We strongly believe that businesses should take a leading role in helping good, local causes,” said Gavin Hepburn, managing director of ATG Access.
“Every child deserves the right to read, learn and explore life, no matter what their start or circumstances.
“The impact of the recent COVID-19 pandemic will only escalate this number unless there is a concerted action from all areas, including business in the local community.
“We were very keen to do our bit and support Read Manchester in their quest to help and support children in the area with reading materials and educational development.
“After all, children are our future.”
Helping children to love reading is crucial to developing their literacy skills, well-being and life chances, says Councillor Luthfur Rahman OBE.
“Despite the limitations imposed by the pandemic, our libraries team are doing fantastic work in continuing to provide access to our fantastic collection of books and educational resources.
“This fundraising effort by the Central Library Development Trust will allow Read Manchester to get additional books and resources into the hands of children across the city.
“Reading is the foundation for success later in life, enabling children to succeed at school, helping them develop broader skills and leading to healthier, happier lives.”
To support the campaign, go to justgiving.com/campaign/mancbookgifting