Give a Book have worked with Doorstep Library for over 6 years, supporting their volunteers who bring reading and the pleasure of discovering stories into the homes of many children in disadvantaged areas. Read below to find out more about the charity and how you could be involved in such an amazing organisation.
Who are we?
Doorstep Library is a literacy charity that believes in the power of words to take children places, not just in their imagination, but in their lives. We recruit and train volunteers to go into homes in some of the most disadvantaged areas in London to help introduce young children (aged 0-11 years) to the pleasure of reading. Currently, Doorstep Library supports over 500 children across Lambeth, Westminster, and Hammersmith and Fulham. The service not only improves literacy and confidence in children, but aims to increase family wellbeing and bonding through the joy of sharing stories.
What do Doorstep Library do?
Armed with a backpack full of books and two little stools, Doorstep Library volunteers visit the same five families every week to share their love of reading with pre-school and primary school aged children. Doorstep Library volunteers don’t just read stories though. They do the silly voices, hand pick the books, and give special recommendations. By making it fun first, we inspire children to experience the joy of stories and books, and transform them into budding readers.
Doorstep Library volunteers spend time at the beginning of their weekly session carefully choosing books from the boxes that they think will excite and interest the children they visit. This is no easy task, the variety of books must reflect the huge diversity in interests, personalities, age ranges and abilities of the individuals they visit. So getting to know them, discovering what they love to do and read, exploring different books, authors and genres with them is key for the volunteers.
Stories on the ground
Sometimes a child will request a particular author, or one of a series, or a genre like graphic novels, because that’s what they’re enjoying or gripped by right now. If we don’t have the book in stock that’s when we call on Give a Book. It makes such a difference to a child when we turn up with the book they’ve requested. The delight and appreciation is written on their face and the volunteers enjoy sharing this and reading the book together.
On finding out that Tommy (aged 3) had a fascination with pirates, our volunteers ordered a pirates book especially for him and his Mum said:
“Tommy loves the pirates book you lent him last week. He wants to take it everywhere and calls it ‘my pirates!’ He even sleeps with it sometimes.”
Zaafira (aged 11) gave our volunteers some wonderful feedback about the books she most liked, explaining to them what excited and motivated her to read. They said:
“When we first started visiting her a year and a half ago she was shy and barely spoke to us. Now she addresses us confidently and during the last session was telling us all about how she prefers action books, with little description and context – she doesn’t think that’s needed if the plot is good! She was so good at articulating her reasons she almost managed to convince us! Mum has also shared with us how much Zaafira’s reading has improved since we’ve been visiting her, and that it’s been noticed at school too.”
Thanks to the support of Give a Book we are able to offer this kind of tailored support which enables children to feel listened to and valued and builds on their relationship with the volunteer. The children also get to read and enjoy a book they may not otherwise have had access to.
Doorstep Library at home
We would also like to thank Give a Book who have generously donated an additional sum to help us continue to support Doorstep Library families through the difficult period of Coronavirus when the schools, and our projects, have been suspended. This funding will enable us to get books out to volunteers and children so we can continue to support those families, most in need. Alongside this targeted support we have been developing a weekly digital Family newsletter filled with tips and great things for children, and their parents to do while they’re at home.
For more information about Doorstep Library please sign up for our quarterly newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2N4WFiF
Join our volunteering team
We are continuing to recruit volunteers during this period, providing online Information Sessions where you can find out more about what we do and be ready to start reading with children and families in the coming months. If you would like to know more about our service do please watch and vote for our wonderful volunteer film – now a Charity Film Award Finalist: http://bit.ly/DoorstepLibraryFilm
Or to book a space on our Information Sessions you can visit: https://www.doorsteplibrary.org.uk/volunteer/
Doorstep Library Team