CHILDREN deprived of books in lockdown will this weekend be able to enjoy a bedtime story – thanks to YOU, our kind-hearted readers.
Last month we asked for donations of old, tatty books so we could recycle them and send out new ones as part of The Sun on Sunday’s Books For Kids campaign, in association with the UK’s largest reading charity BookTrust.
Children from Bristnall Hall Academy in Oldbury, West Midlands, pose with books they were gifted via The Sun’s Books for Kids campaignCredit: Damien McFadden- The Sun
Now an amazing 10,000 new books are being distributed to schools, children’s centres, food banks, women’s refuges and family support teams up and down the country.
After receiving some of the first batch, Kully Uppal, principal at Bristnall Hall Academy in Oldbury, West Mids, described the scheme as “vital” for poorer children with libraries shut and money tight.
He added: “We are giving them out to families at our school who need them most.
“Lockdown has been really tough, especially for children who don’t have access to books and stories at home.”
Two of the children who received books are Emily, 15, and Oliver, 13.
Mum Katie Lonsdale said: “This is so great. Books are expensive and if you have more than one child it’s hard to provide them.
Katarzyna Diakowska packs books at EC Group in GraysCredit: Oliver Dixon – The Sun
“Having books at home helps the kids do something away from screens and allows them to relax in another world for a while.”
Ascot and Cranbourne Pre-school in Berks has also been sent a consignment. Manager Hannah Myatt said: “The impact of books on young children and families is huge.
“Some of our children are lucky and are exposed to books at home, but it’s not the same for all of them.
“Books provide a wonderful time to share between parent and child, exposing children to new language and pictures to talk about. Reading supports early language development in a very positive way.”
Mum-of-four Lian Bailey, 39, from Romney Marsh, Kent, was given books by Seashells Children’s Centre, New Romney, where she works.
How you can help
YOU can either post your old books or send them via Hermes.
The courier company, which delivers in excess of 630million parcels a year in the UK, has agreed to deliver the packages at the reduced cost of £1.99 for a medium-sized box (66cm x 41cm x 38cm maximum, with maximum weight of 5kg).
Hermes UK CEO Martijn De Lange said: “We are delighted to be supporting The Sun on Sunday and BookTrust by making our nationwide network of local couriers and local ParcelShops and Lockers available to accept these books. This is a fantastic campaign.”
SENDING BY POST
The address to send your old books to is: Books For Kids, PO Box 485, Grays, Essex RM17 7HY.
SENDING BY HERMES
Go to myhermes.co.uk and select “Return A Parcel”. Search for “The Sun on Sunday” and click on The Sun on Sunday logo.
Enter “books” in the order ID field, enter your email address (they need this to send you the postage label) and choose “other” for your reason to return. Choose from ParcelShop drop-off (no printer needed) or courier collection (home printer needed).
Pay the £1.99 via debit card and you will receive an email with details of how to print your label at home (if you have chosen a courier collection).
Or if you have chosen ParcelShop drop-off, take your phone or tablet and your parcel to your nearest Hermes ParcelShop, show the shopkeeper the QR code on the email – and your label can be printed in the shop and attached to your parcel.
Hermes has more than 5,000 ParcelShops and Lockers.
To find your nearest Hermes ParcelShop, just enter your postcode in the Hermes ParcelShop finder on the website – myhermes.co.uk.
She said: “They were gifted to my five-year-old, Jordan. He is a very good reader who particularly enjoys books about facts and he loves to question everything.
“It’s been really difficult to get new books for him during lockdown so these are perfect for him.”
Our books also went to women in refuges who have often fled their homes to escape danger.
Holly Ringrose, from Reigate And Banstead Women’s Aid, Surrey, said: “These will mean the world to the families we have here.
“They arrive with nothing, barely any possessions, only ever the essentials. So to have the escapism a story brings will mean a great deal to a lot of children.
“Reading gives them a chance to use their imagination and to take them out of the traumatic ordeal they are going through.”
Sally Dennis, operations manager at Birmingham & Solihull Women’s Aid, said: “We are so grateful for this wonderful donation for children escaping domestic abuse with their mums. Families have often had to leave in a hurry with very few, if any, possessions.
Justina Trapikaite and Simona Bacelyte pose with some of the wonderful books going to kids across the nationCredit: Oliver Dixon – The Sun
“The gift of a book for each child is special, not just because they entertain and educate, but because this sends a message that someone is thinking about them and cares at a difficult time in their lives.”
Dancing On Ice star and mum-of-five Rebekah Vardy, 39, called our campaign “wonderful”.
She said: “It is so important for children to have reading books and it is so lovely for them to be able to have a bedtime story. I cherish that reading time with my children.
“It’s great to think kids around the country who were missing out now have books thanks to this campaign.”
Strictly champion Oti Mabuse, 30, called our campaign “fantastic”.
The pro dancer, who has written children’s book Dance With Oti, out in June, said: “The Sun on Sunday campaign is fantastic and I love that they’ve recycled old books as well as giving out new ones.”
As part of our campaign, we have paid for old books to be recycled in Essex. Once shredded, they are sent to paper mills around the world. It takes 70 per cent less energy to recycle paper than it does to make it from raw materials.
Hypnotist Paul McKenna, 57, co-author of children’s book The Child Positivity Bedtime Story with wife Kate, said: “Books inspire children, fuel imagination and improve their learning. In these difficult times every child should have a bedtime story and the joy of reading, which can shape their future.”
Our campaign has also won the backing of boxing legend Frank Bruno.
The 59-year-old ex-champ is now a grandfather and working on his own kids’ book series, Worried Frank, as part of his mental health campaigning.
He said: “It’s more important than ever that children have a little bit of escapism. Whether it’s a parent or guardian reading to a child or the child reading themselves, it’s a massively important part of growing up that no young person should miss out on.
“I am looking forward to being able to sit and read stories to my grandchildren again soon.”
The Sun on Sunday partnered with Hermes UK, which delivers in excess of 630million parcels every year in the UK, to help send out the new books.
CEO Martijn De Lange said: “It’s great to have been part of such a wonderful campaign that has helped provide 10,000 books to the children that need them most.”
BookTrust CEO Diana Gerald added: “We’ve loved how many readers have got behind it and sent in their old books to recycle.
“We’re proud to be sending out 10,000 books to families across the country who are missing out on the life-changing benefits of access to books at home.”
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