With the return to reading on the doorstep after a year-long hiatus during which our volunteers were only able to do book swaps, we received a generous donation from OVO Foundation, who find meaningful and impactful organisations and projects to fund to ensure all children and young people to have equitable access to a sustainable future. Thanks to their funding our volunteers can arrive bearing books AND gifts for any family with a child aged 5 or under. This term, in addition to sharing the gift of reading, we are sharing the gift of play!
Our projects team have been putting together ‘Early Years Packs’ filled with brand new gifts to encourage and support the development of babies and small children. Each pack includes a wooden painted maraca, bubbles, a box of crayons, two pots of playdough, a cookie cutter, a laminated alphabet sheet, a puppet pack for the older children and little finger puppets for the babies. Each child will also receive a new book for them to read and signposting to helpful organisations and services in their area.
Each item has been selected thoughtfully to promote healthy brain development and to make storytime even more engaging. Playing and reading together can help to enhance the bond between parent and child. Our packs include an explanatory sheet that outlines the intention behind each gift; our aim is that parents will use them as a new way to engage with their children and to have fun learning through play.
Here are some of the following reasons why playing with our packs will be beneficial:
- Watching bubbles can help babies practise tracking objects with their eyes and are good for hand-eye coordination. Using their mouths to blow bubbles can help develop speech, especially b and p sounds.
- Playdough is an effective medium to develop imagination and creativity. ‘Play pretend’ improves cognitive flexibility and helps children to express themselves.
- Similarly, puppets are valuable tools to help children share thoughts and feelings that they may find scary or worrying otherwise. Puppets are also great for role-playing to gain skills in language and empathy, especially children with SEN (Special Educational Needs), as the puppets can be used to support their development and communication; this allows them to converse as they wish in a safe space and to develop at their own pace.
- Learning to grip crayons and colour in shapes helps children develop fine motor control – this is very important when children learn to write.
- Maracas help children understand rhythm, which is important for developing speech.
At Doorstep Library, we love reading with the children we visit, and we know the amazing benefits of reading. We are giving new books as part of our packs to everyone under 5, even babies under a year old because we know that it’s never too early to start reading with the little ones. Reading with newborns can be a lovely bonding experience, and the sound of a parent’s voice can be very soothing. Reading with babies helps to develop language in their brains before they can even talk! The more words a baby hears over time, the better prepared they are to start reading on their own later.
After months of planning and carefully putting together each pack by hand, we are very excited to bring these packs to our families and to continue reading with them on their doorsteps. OVO’s donation has meant that we are able to gift these packs to 165 children from 124 families. After a year of limited access to play spaces, and no reading with Doorstep volunteers, we’re starting off this term with some fun! We’ll be blowing bubbles, colouring and shaking our maracas all the way through autumn.
If you’d like to find out more about the benefits that Doorstep Library can bring to both children families, visit our Parent’s Resources.