Manchester Central Library Development Trust, the charity that supports the educational and cultural activities of Manchester Libraries, has launched a new urgent cash appeal on justgiving.com to help get brand new books to children and families. Find out more and donate here – and read on for more information…

Helping children to love reading is crucial to developing literacy skills, wellbeing and life chances. Reading is the foundation for success and employment. It enables children to succeed at school, helps them develop broader skills, and leads to healthier, happier lives. Read Manchester and Manchester Libraries work tirelessly to improve literacy and life chances.

But there is still urgent work to be done. The cost of living crisis has plunged a rising number of families into deeper poverty than ever before and, for an increasing number, new books for their children are beyond reach. We know how much children benefit from the opportunity to really engage with reading, but books are becoming increasingly difficult to buy for an increasing number of families, when putting food on the table and heating the home are bigger challenges. This dire situation will only worsen as winter bites.

Local teachers tell us about the importance of children personally owning books. Victoria Collier, Deputy Head and English Lead, Old Moat Primary School said:

‘A number of our children arrive at school with a very limited vocabulary, and many come from backgrounds where families just don’t share books. Poverty is an underlying factor for so many of our families and with the cost of living crisis, it’s harder than ever for them to find the money to spend on books. Shockingly, when a book club was run in school at Christmas time last year, only four of our families were able to buy books for their children. So when brand new gifted books were brought into school by Read Manchester, it made a huge difference – there was a buzz about reading and the children loved sharing and talking about their new books. Libraries are an amazing resource, but every child deserves to smell, feel and read a brand new book that belongs to them, and them alone.’

We believe all children need and deserve to own new books. At this time, when we know many parents cannot afford more expense, it is crucial that we support the most vulnerable local children. Working together, we can ensure that we are reaching local children and families where free new books can really improve their lives.

Working with over 100 local organisations including schools, foodbanks, community groups, Home-Start Centres, refugees and youth groups, more than 150,000 books have been gifted through the book gifting campaign since early 2020. Family support charity, Home-Start Manchester shared how some of their families had reacted to the free books:

‘Thank you for the books, I didn’t realise she would enjoy a longer story so much! I have been reading baby books at bedtime as I thought she wouldn’t understand ones for her age because of her additional needs. She was so engaged, her eyes lit up and we cuddled up for longer, we both got so much out of it’

Barlow Moor Community organisations told us how important it was for children to receive new books:

‘We were over the moon with the quality of the books, and it was very emotional to receive these and be able to gift them to children that would not normally receive something of that quality brand new.’

This Christmas, please make a donation to support our Book Gifting appeal

By donating to this appeal you will be helping to get books to children and families in Manchester who need them most during the deepening cost of living crisis. It will also support Manchester’s city-wide approach to building a safe, happy, healthy and successful future for all children and young people. 2022 has been a year dedicated to young people, ‘Our Year 2022 ‘, which is part of our journey to become a UNICEF UK Child Friendly City. A child friendly city is one where Children’s Rights are celebrated and recognised. By supporting this campaign you will be helping to support Article 31 (leisure, play and culture) – every child has the right to relax, play and take part in a wide range of cultural and artistic activities.

Please give what you can – thank you!

£10 could provide two books for a family struggling this Christmas

£20 could help four children receive a book of their own to read this winter

£30 could provide a community foodbank six books to distribute to local families

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Book Gifting at the Tree of Life Centre, Wythenshawe, 2021