Invisible children

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“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

St John’s Foundation was delighted to take receipt of 400 children’s books* courtesy of publisher Simon & Shuster; who generously donated the books to our partner organisation, Feeding Britain, to mark the publication of their latest book, The Invisible.

The book is based on a young girl called Isabel whose family is in poverty; she lives in difficult conditions with parents who are struggling financially. The title of the book Invisible symbolises how, in society, families living in poverty often become overlooked and are made to feel invisible. The book’s overriding message is that everyone is important, regardless of the conditions they live in.  Significantly, the deprived living conditions of the book’s main character, Isabel, are reflective of the lives of many of the children we work with – particularly the schools involved in St John’s Primary Empowerment Programme. These schools have a combined average of 46% of disadvantaged pupils on their register and our main objective is to improve the circumstances of these children through supporting foundational reading, writing, oracy and mathematics, as well as their emotional and behavioural wellbeing.  These 400 books are set to be distributed to the schools in this Programme.

The importance of children having books to read cannot be understated and St John’s has long recognised the power and influence that reading has on young children.  Reading allows, not just children, but adults, to be transported from our own world to another. The knowledge we get from reading is power and with it we can immerse ourselves in different lives, learning from those unlike us. As well as learning about new cultures, we learn new words and phrases and acquire skills and knowledge we didn’t have before.

Research points to the vast benefits of reading from birth onward. In addition to advancing brain development, language skills, and vocabulary, it also can build listening and memory skills. Multiple studies have highlighted that early language exposure increases reading proficiency in later life. Reading needs to be a key part of children’s everyday lives which is why this donation from Simon & Schuster will mean so much, to so many.

However, we are not just focusing on the development of primary school pupils; we have just signed a two-year contract with Bath and North East Somerset Council and Virgin Care to support our Early Years Programme. The aim of this being to support the vocabulary development of children, aged two to four, who have not yet developed as far as their fellow peers due to their social backgrounds and physical and mental health needs. Through the programme, we hope to improve these vital skills before they start school and start to narrow the educational attainment gap in BaNES.

Reading with children helps them to develop a love of reading for life and we hope these books can go towards building this special relationship. Although The Invisible is a children’s book, it’s a stark reminder to us all that we need to care for those currently being overlooked in our society and stand in solidarity with those in-need.

* The books are : Izzy Gizmo and the Invention Convention, Marcel’s Parcels, Dave The Lonely Monster, Paper Planes, The Adventures of Harry Stevenson, Pencil Dog, Sophie Johnson: Detective Genius, How to Nab A Rabbit, Terribly Friendly Fox, Birdy and Bou, Sophie Johnson: Unicorn Expert, Alan The Bear Party Time