Reading offers vital escapism in the best of times. For children who have suffered the trauma of having to flee their homes to a distant land abroad, books mean all the more.
This is the premise of a new scheme created by Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in collaboration with the charity, Give a Book, and the publisher, Penguin. Together they will gift 200 refugee babies and children a book each month from birth until they turn five.
“In our work, we see again and again the comfort that a good book and shared reading can provide,” explained Victoria Gray, the executive director of Give a Book.
It’s this comfort that the three organisations hope to offer to children who have undergone the stress of dislocation.
“Delivering books to these children every month will give them the opportunity to experience the joy of reading with their families,” added Marion Gillooly, the executive director of The Dollywood Foundation UK, Dolly Parton’s philanthropic organisation which funds the Imagination Library.
“We hope that this will support family relationships and inspire a love of reading that will last a lifetime,” she added.
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Each book they send will be carefully selected to suit young children’s reading needs and reflect the diversity of families receiving them.
Alongside illustrated nursery rhymes, they will send classics such as Where is the Very Hungry Caterpillar?, King Jack and Billy and the Dragon.
Nadia Shireen, the author of Billy and the Dragon, said: “Children’s books are magical portals that can comfort, console and delight.
“For families who have been through unimaginable upheaval, receiving a book to share may be a small thing; but it will hopefully also be a loving, warm and familiar thing.”
The children will receive a book at their home thanks to distribution networks created via Greater London schools and community centres, including refugee centres and asylum-seeker drop-ins.
Inspired to act?
DONATE: To offer books to those most in need of them and with the least access to literature, donate to Give a Book.
VOLUNTEER: Help run fundraising events or deliver books to promote reading for all. Volunteer for Give a Book.