Cornwall Council and Cornwall Down’s Syndrome Support Group work together to launch Going to School book

img_0735

A new book aimed at three and four year olds in Cornwall which is using images of children who have Down’s syndrome to help promote a positive message about inclusion in schools has been officially launched on Monday.

“Going to School”, which will be included in the BookStart Treasure Packs given to every Cornish rising school age child in the county for the next four years, has been produced through a partnership between Cornwall Council and three parents from the Cornwall Down’s Syndrome Support Group

The book, which is the second title in the Looking Up series, takes the reader on a journey through a typical school day showing children having fun learning alongside their peers.  Some of the children in the book happen to have Down’s syndrome and some of them don’t – with the publication designed to celebrate diversity and inclusion and show children, and parents and carers that all children are more the same, than different.

The creation of this amazing new book stems from a visit by parents of children with Down’s syndrome to County Hall to celebrate world Down’s Syndrome Day. Parents asked how they could raise the profile of Down’s Syndrome by using their book.  It got me thinking on how best this could be done, then I thought about BookStart and how this has a potential to be used.

For those who do not know, last year 6,498 BookStart Treasure Packs were distributed to 336 different Early Years settings across Cornwall by the Council.

The three authors behind the book

The three authors behind the book

As a result of this visit I arranged a meeting with Cornwall Council officers from the Reader Services Team and parents to discuss how to include the book into the BookStart pack.  I am pleased to say, in a short space of time of just less than five-months from the initial meeting, we officially launched the book at an event in St. Austell yesterday.

The Cornwall Down’s Syndrome Group raised – in a short space of time – just over £3,000 for a print run of 30,000 copies of the book. The cost of distributing the book will be met by Cornwall Council via its BookStart programme.   img_0729

img_0736It was great to work with the group and in welcoming the launch, Angie Emrys-Jones, one of the three parents who have been involved in the project, said:

“Vicky, Sandy & I are thrilled to have worked with the Council and BookTrust to see ‘Going To School’ included in BookStart Treasure Packs.   The Support Group has around 150 families, all of whom are passionate about promoting inclusion for children with Down’s syndrome.  We are very proud of this book, which has been produced with their support.

“Our approach is to use pictures rather than words to convey a message and the images the book contains have been chosen to give opportunity to talk about the many things that may happen during a typical school day – learning together, making friends and having fun.”

img_0724img_0741A massive thanks has to go to the Council’s BookStart Coordinator, Deborah Averil and Merryn Kent, the Council’s Reader Services Team Leader for making this happen from the Council’s end. From the initial meeting we had (plus a few more), the team just wanted to help get this book to as many people as possible. More so as in today’s tough financial climate, we cannot always give groups money to do something, but where possible, we will find a way to help. This book is a perfect example of how this can happen.

Sharing picture books is a great way to help young children discover more about their world and take their first steps in learning to read. ‘Going to School’ does more than promote inclusion in a very clear and simple way and I am really pleased that through BookStart, we are able to share this book with young children and their families across Cornwall.

 

Bookstart Week and hanging with my mate, Bookstart Bear

National Bookstart Week runs from 8th till the 14th June and is an annual celebration of Book Trust’s flagship reading programme, Bookstart. It aims to reinforce to families the importance of getting in to the habit of reading every day – even if it’s just for ten minutes!

This year’s theme, Jungle Adventures, is based on Giles Andreae’s beloved picture book Rumble in the Jungle, which will be given away to more than 450,000 families in the UK.

The Bookstart programme is run by Booktrust, an independent national charity that encourages people of all ages and cultures to engage with books. This is done with support provided though a unique public/private partnership, that includes funding from the DfE, generous publisher support and the local authority to provide free Bookstart packs to babies and toddlers. This is where Cornwall Council comes in supporting this fantastic programme.

During the last ten years, Cornwall has delivered 100,000 Bookstart packs making the county in the top 5% nationally. This equates to 350,000 free books worth around £1.4m given to children to help inspire a love of reading. It doesn’t stop there either, as well as providing free books, Bookstart facilitates a range of fun activities through Bookstart Bear Club. This club is run in various community spaces with staff offering fun interactive activities including stories and rhymes.

During Bookstart week, Bookstart Bear has visited Saltash Library and Lostwithiel Library. Bookstart will also be visiting Redruth Library on Friday 12th June from 11am and Helston Library on Saturday 13th June from 11am -12 noon.

I had the pleasure of visiting my old friend, Bookstart at one of the events. It was clear to see from both parents and the children gathered how much they appreciate the service, and why the financial support from the children’s directorate is worth every penny

bookstart3

Seeing my old friend again

Saltash Bookstart (2)

book start 1

Bookstart Bear, Children and a Portfolio Holder

I have often said getting out and about and meeting people as the Children and Young People Portfolio Holder is a very important part of the role. This week I had the pleasure to meet and hangout with Bookstart Bear at the Truro Register Office. No it was not a marriage ceremony, but to celebrate the work of Bookstart in Cornwall.

The Bookstart programme is run by Booktrust, an independent national charity that encourages people of all ages and cultures to engage with books. This is done with support provided though a unique public/private partnership, that includes funding from the DfE, generous publisher support and the local authority to provide free Bookstart packs to babies and toddlers.

During the last ten years, Cornwall has delivered 100,000 Bookstart packs making the county in the top 5% nationally. This equates to 350,000 free books worth around £1.4m given to children to help inspire a love of reading. It doesn’t stop there either, as well as providing free books, Bookstart facilitates a range of fun activities through Bookstart Bear Club. This club is run in various community spaces with staff offering fun interactive activities including stories and rhymes.

All this is achieved by a trail blazing partnership and one of the first in the country for the Registration Service working with the Library Service and Children’s Service to gift the initial Bookstart pack when parents register the birth of their child. This has since 2010 resulted in 100% gifting of Bookstart packs.

During the celebration event I saw first hand the joy of children taking part in the activities with their parents, seeing Bookstart Bear and all getting a book and sticker. This is a great programme which costs a fraction to deliver in return for huge benefits. I was very impressed with books also being available in dual languages. This helps parents with English as an additional language (EAL) read to their child in both their native language and English.

20131031-094047.jpg

20131031-094059.jpg