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Milestone reached in children’s literacy project

MORE than 1,000 Bradford babies are getting a better start to literacy by taking part in a free book giving scheme.

The milestone mark is being celebrated by Better Start Bradford, a Big Lottery-funded project which is part of a ten-year £49 million programme to give babies and young children in some of the city’s most deprived areas the best start in life.

So far 1,005 babies have been signed up for the Imagine project getting books by popular children’s authors including Beatrix Potter, Nick Sharratt, Rod Campbell, Eric Hill and Janet and Allan Ahlberg.

The scheme gives a free book per month to every child, born after January 1, 2016, living in the project’s area of Bowling and Barkerend, Bradford Moor and Little Horton areas of Bradford).

The youngsters will keep getting the books until their fourth birthday in a bid to to support and develop their literacy skills from early on.

The Imagine project was started after the success of another similar scheme in the Canterbury area of the city and is being delivered by BHT Early Education and Training as part of the international Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

Better Start Imagine Coordinator Leanne Souster said families have welcomed the literacy project . She said: “We are really pleased with how the book gifting has been welcomed. We have also introduced rhyme time for babies and storytelling sessions at local libraries and centres to reach as many children under four as possible.”

Noshi Iqbal, mum to one-year-old Salman, said: “Better Start Imagine has changed my baby son’s life for the better. We try to get along to the rhyme time sessions as Salman is learning lots of words through nursery rhymes such as ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’. I want to thank the Better Start Imagine team for a great seven months and the wonderful start to Salman’s life which will be the foundation to studying and learning.”

Dad Darryl Young regularly takes his children Fawzan who is three and one-year-old Safa, to the storytelling and rhyme time sessions at Laisterdyke Library as part of the Imagine project. He said: “Books give us that special time together and help us learn and create new ways to read. Through the library sessions, I have watched my children’s social skills and concentration develop. Safa particularly loves Snap Croc and has even learnt to brush her teeth as well as develop a love for crocodiles!”

Programme director of Better Start Bradford Michaela Howell, wants more families to sign up and take part. She said: “We want local families to really embrace the importance of reading books to their children. It’s great fun and also helps to boost their language and communication skills. We’re really encouraging people in the Better Start Bradford area to sign up to Better Start Imagine project.” To find out more go to betterstartbradford.org.uk and to get more details about upcoming Better Start Imagine activities visit bhtearlyed.org.uk

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