We’ve a spring in our step when we look through the figures from our recent Big Book Giveaway. Over the Easter period we gifted 10,444 books and 4,633 magazines to children and young people across the city. This figure takes our total to 55,724 books and magazines gifted locally since the first lockdown was announced in March 2020.

For our spring giveaway we worked with 67 different organisations to reach children in our local communities. This includes Foodbanks, Children’s Homes, Women’s Refuges, Community groups and Youth projects. Who doesn’t love a new book!

It has been an almost military operation to unpack, sort and assemble bespoke book boxes for each individual organisation, but the smiling faces from families selecting their books has made it all worthwhile.

Person from community grocery standing by rack of magazines

Manchester Youth Council supported the Book Giveaway by gifting books to young people through Moss Side Powerhouse and the Manchester Deaf Centre youth groups. Joanne Aungier, Engagement Coordinator said ‘It’s a nice surprise for families to get something for free, many families are struggling and books are a luxury for most, so to have free books to share is really great and cheers people up.’

Some of the young people receiving books commented:

‘It’s nice to choose a book to keep, I chose one I borrow from the library so I can read it again.’

‘It’s good to have free books, books are expensive, so it’s nice to get one to keep.’

‘I love my book I’m going to tell jokes to my brother I’ve chosen a book for my little brother cos he likes dinosaurs and this book has got good pictures’

Lady collecting books for Emmeline’s Pantry

Emmeline’s Pantry, a food bank for vulnerable women and their families commented:

‘We received a lovely message from a service user saying her children were having fun with the activity packs and magazines she picked up from us yesterday. We get so much support from Libraries who’ve donated some amazing books through the Easter hols and throughout the year. These keep our little ones busy and our Mums happy.’

Read Manchester also supplied books for women and children in temporary accommodation refuges through the Pankhurst Trust (incorporating Manchester Women’s Aid). Manchester Women’s Aid provide services to support domestic abuse survivors. They told us:

“We had feedback from older children who read the stories to their younger siblings and we had feedback from several under 10’s saying how much they were enjoying a bedtime story ‘and mummy does all the voices’

Person displaying collection of books

The books are bringing families together and are really good at taking families minds off the everyday worries and tensions. Children and parents are talking to the staff about characters and/or pretending to be characters they enjoy from the books. We are seeing more smiles.”

As well as our Spring Book Giveaway, we have also been supporting other organisations working with children and young people. Some of our highlights since January this year are:

  • Working with the Manchester City Council Looked After Children’s Team to gift two books to every looked-after child aged 5 and under (500 books)
  • Supporting the fabulous Manchester Art Gallery and SureStart Children’s Centres with 3,000 books for their Baby sensory bags for new babies born since lockdown
  • 1,000 Bookstart Corner packs for children aged 2-3 across the city accessing SureStart Children’s Centres
  • And working with the Hungry Little Minds campaign, we have gifted library book packs (containing 11 books each) to 126 Private Day Care settings across the city – another 1,386 books for our under 5’s.
Person collecting books from read Manchester

For those of us who love some stats – that’s 20,963 books, magazines and packs since January, all with one of our Take 10 Read Manchester stickers on!