New initiative helps keep hundreds of disadvantaged children in Swansea engaged in reading during school closures with new books and digital storytelling sessions from Welsh poets

BAME poetry and writing group. 'Where I coming from' open mic events at the Tramshed, Cardiff. Pictured is Taylor Edmonds pic by Rob Browne, Wales Online

The National Literacy Trust’s Young Reader’s Programme has been awarded funding from The Moondance Foundation Covid-19 Relief Fund, which supports charitable activities in Wales during the Covid-19 crisis, to gift hundreds of disadvantaged primary school children in Swansea new books to support their learning and discover a love of reading.

The Young Reader’s Programme will support 240 children from four primary schools in Swansea: Waun Wen, Townhill, Portmead and Clwyd Community Primary School. 60 pupils from each school will receive two brand news books each to take home, alongside access to eBook titles to expand the schools’ library selection, and specially curated activity packs filled with fun reading, writing and craft activities to do at home. For some of the children, these may be the first books they have ever owned.

The National Literacy Trust has teamed up with two talented Welsh poets in collaboration with Literature Wales, a charity which works to inspire communities, develop writers and celebrate the literary culture of Wales, to bring storytelling to life for children. Writers Taylor Edmonds and Alex Wharton have recorded two exciting stories coming soon to the digital story telling series, the Young Readers Story Club.  The duo were recognised earlier this year as part of Literature Wales’ and Firefly PressRising Stars Wales Award, a new initiative open to poets from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds living in Wales.

Research from the National Literacy Trust shows that children who have books of their own do better at school and have higher levels of mental wellbeing, yet 1 in 11 disadvantaged children in Wales1 do not own a single book. Following a prolonged period away from school as a result of COVID-19 and with public libraries still closed, getting books into the hands of children who need them most at this time is more vital than ever to help prevent them from falling even further behind their peers.

For over 20 years, the National Literacy Trust’s Young Readers Programme has been dedicated to inspiring children from disadvantaged communities across the UK to fall in love with reading through a series of fun events where children get to choose and take home brand new books, including author visits, storytelling sessions and literary-themed events.

Nick Oram, Young Readers Programme Manager at the National Literacy Trust, said: “We are so grateful to have been awarded funding from Moondance’s Covid-19 Relief Fund, to be able to ensure hundreds of children in Swansea have access to new and exciting books to support their learning and keep them engaged in reading for enjoyment whilst schools are closed. We are also delighted to be working with the brilliant team at Literature Wales to provide some incredible storytelling videos from inspiring Welsh poets for these children as well. It’s so important to us to be able to reach the children who need our support the most at this time.”

Lleucu Siencyn, Chief Executive of Literature Wales, said: Literature Wales is very pleased to team up with National Literacy Trust to help facilitate the Young Reader’s Programme in Swansea. Literature is for everyone and can have transformative power. Encouraging a love of reading from a young age is key to this and we are particularly pleased that the Swansea pupils will be able to engage with the work of two young poets from Wales, Taylor Edmonds and Alex Wharton. Both write brilliant and engaging poetry for children and have already been recognised through the Rising Stars Wales Award, initiated by Literature Wales last year. These are exceptional new talents who are sure to inspire and fire up the imagination of the children taking part.”

Find out more about the Young Readers Programme:

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