First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has recorded a story for families with young children to launch a partnership between charities Children 1st and the Dollywood Foundation UK, and the public to spark the love of reading in every child in Scotland.
Families can enjoy the First Minister’s reading of the Ladybird book “Mabel and the Mountain” by Kim Hillyard on Children 1st’s website. The story tells the story of Mabel, a small fly with big plans who knows she shouldn’t give up.
Nicola Sturgeon’s recording is the first in a series of recordings of children’s stories by well-known book lovers, to be shared by the charities in the coming months. As well as listening to each new story, members of the public will be encouraged to give a monthly gift of £10 to inspire a love of reading among pre-school children whose families may not have access to books at home. The Literacy Trust estimates that over 383,000 children and young people in the UK do not have a book of their own. According to the Trust up to 50% of children in disadvantaged areas start school without the language skills they need to progress.
With the public’s support the charities will deliver a free book, by post, to a child from their birth to their fifth birthday, for the child to keep. Alongside the books, children and their families will also be offered the practical and emotional support they need to keep their children safe and support their wellbeing and development.
Mary Glasgow, Children 1st, Chief Executive said: “Children 1st are thrilled and excited to be working with Dolly and her team at the Imagination Library in Scotland to spark a love of reading in every young child.
“Cuddling up and reading a book together is a great way for families to build loving, strong relationships. Enjoying books helps children feel connected, safe and secure and enjoying the magic of stories is a great way to support language and communication skills at an early age. Reading with very young children builds creativity, fires their imagination and is an important way to build the developmental and emotional building blocks they need for life.
“Our partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library will bring books to thousands of children who are missing out on the joy of stories because they do not have the same access to books that other families enjoy. We hope that every young family in Scotland will enjoy the stories on our website and that book lovers of all ages will support us to share the love of reading and to help young families to recover from the impact of the pandemic.”
A poll by the Literacy Trust showed that almost sixty percent of UK children said that reading made them feel better during the pandemic and a third said it helped them when they were feeling sad.
The First Minister, who is an avid reader and regularly shares her latest favourite books on her social media channels, says she is delighted to back the partnership:
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Inspiring a love of reading from a young age can positively impact mental health and creativity and help to improve vital literacy skills.
“Reading for pleasure can also bring joy and comfort during even the most difficult times which is why I am very pleased to help launch this new initiative by Children 1st and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.
“I hope that many more people will join me in supporting this partnership to help inspire Scotland’s next generation of book lovers.”
With the public’s support, the charities hope to work with more than 700 children and their families in the first year of their partnership.
Kirsty Hill, The Dollywood Foundation UK, Regional Director said: “We are thrilled to welcome Children 1st to the Imagination Library family. Dolly Parton’s commitment to support the growth of the Imagination Library here in the UK means we can share the joy of reading with more and more children each year. However, we couldn’t do it without the hard work and dedication of our partners who help fund and support the programme.”
As well as support from the First Minister the charities’ “Give the Love of Reading” campaign is being supported by the National Lottery Community Fund, who are helping the partnership get up and running.
Kate Still, The National Lottery Community Fund Scotland Chair, said: “I am delighted that Children 1st has been successful in securing an award from The National Lottery.
“This partnership will open up a whole new world of reading for hundreds of children helping to hone and inspire their creativity and imagination. I would like to wish Children 1st and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library every success with this important project and National Lottery players can be proud of the difference this will make for families across Scotland.“
Families can watch the First Minister’s story and donate to Give the Love of Reading at: www.children1st.org.uk/imaginationlibrary