Manchester Children's Book Festival (MCBF) has given out almost 2,000 books to children living in disadvantaged areas of the city to support their reading during the pandemic.
MCBF is a year-round programme of literary events and projects focused on developing children's writing and reading habits and organised by Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University. The programme was established by former poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy.
Duffy said: “At the heart of MCBF is our wish to bring children into contact with books and to nurture our young readers. The incredibly generous donation by publishers of free books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction for children has meant we have been able to continue this work during lockdown.
“I owe my life to books and it is important to me and to my colleagues at MCBF to nourish the imaginations and dreams of children through reading.”
Prior to the pandemic, MCBF was to host the Poetry in the Park Fun Day to launch the new Manchester Poetry Library. Instead, it was decided to focus on providing materials for children at home.
Publishers including Penguin Random House, Macmillan Children's, Scholastic and Hachette Kids responded to a call to donate titles to the organisation and provided a range of novels, poetry anthologies and writing journals worth a combined total of £15,000. The books have been given to schools, libraries and charities under the guidance of MCBF director Kaye Tew.
Tew said: “It was important to us to make sure that these books got into the hands of children who would benefit most so I called on people I knew could help. We also wanted parents and children to be able to choose books, just as they would in a bookshop, so we worked closely with librarians, teachers and charity organisations to select the right titles for their children and to agree how the books would be made available.”
Leigh M’Rabty, services development co-ordinator at Manchester City Council, added: “We have loved being part of the MCBF’s big book giveaway. It came at the perfect time–just as we started to open some of our libraries back up–so the children were desperate and very excited to get their hands on fabulous books to read, enjoy and talk about. It is always a pleasure for us to be able to gift a child with a book and encourage a love and passion for reading.”
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