In the UK, how well you read has a direct bearing on how well you do in life. For various reasons, children from the poorest families are less likely to have books, less likely to read with their parents and less likely to read for pleasure. Not only are they more likely to fall behind in their studies as a result, they fall behind in their lives. Amongst developed nations, it is the UK that shows the clearest link between poor literacy and unemployment. For most youngsters there is no way back, because much of what support there is doesn’t reach its target. We leave our most vulnerable children behind.
Doorstep Library exists to help as many of these vulnerable families as we can. We believe in the power of words to take children places, not just in their imagination, but in their lives. We want to see a world where all children can thrive in homes in which books are celebrated and a love of reading is embraced.
Volunteers work in pairs, carrying a rucksack full of books, and small stools to sit on. We visit each family once a week during term-time, read stories with the children and lend them books to exchange when we return the following week. We emphasise the fun element, and use the power of stories to let the children generate their own interest, which is the most effective motivation for learning.
We also engage with parents to show how important (and easy) it is for them to spend time reading with their children and take an active part in their education. In addition, we develop strong links with family support agencies in order to ‘signpost’ to families what is on offer in their community in terms of events and facilities, helping them gain access to everything from libraries to reading clubs, youth centres, grants, days out, courses, talks and workshops.