Free books for local families during lockdown

Bristol actor Joe Sims who is volunteering for Stories at Home which is providing over 8,000 books for babies and children up to 11.

Thousands of books are being gifted to families across Bristol during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Stories at Home is a new initiative which is providing books for vulnerable families during the pandemic – to support parents and carers to improve childhood literacy.

The books are available via food clubs and foodbanks and also by collection at some Nursery Schools, Children’s Centres and Primary Schools.

Some doorstep drops are also being made by Family Support workers, teachers and the Bristol City Robins Foundation.

Over 8,000 books suitable for children aged 0-12 months to age 11 have been donated by publishers, charities and other organisations including BookTrust, Hargreaves Lansdown and Phoenix Comics.

Councillor Anna Keen, Cabinet Lead for Education and Skills, said: “We know that some families will have few or no books at home, and now have no access to books because schools, nurseries and libraries are closed due to the Covid-19 response.

“This new initiative encourages children of all ages to take pleasure in discovering new books and reading. We know that reading, especially from an early age, is important because it fosters life-long reading habits…”

According to the National Literacy Trust, one in eight disadvantaged children do not own a book – but book ownership is “significantly linked to increased reading ability and reading for pleasure”.

Bristol actor, Joe Sims, best known for his role in Broadchurch is volunteering for Stories at Home, delivering books to families across the city, and his fundraising organisation 500 Reasons, has donated £500 worth of books to the project.

He said: “It’s such a pleasure to be involved with Stories At Home – reading as a family empowers learning at home, it empowers parents to reinforce good literacy skills and helps families build creative memories together…”

Stories at Home is looking for more people to sponsor the project and provide books. Email coronavirus@bristol.gov.uk if you can help.