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A world of stories

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Many people and organisations are involved in the process of creating readers. Some focus on building essential language skills, others on the joys of literature and storytelling. Organisations which support literacy as all or part of their remit include:

Children’s public libraries

As well as offering access to children’s reading materials and films, libraries offer advice, online resources and a range of events from story readings and craft sessions to children’s parties and author visits. There are 550 public libraries and 69 mobile libraries in the south east but provision for children varies from county to county.

School libraries

There are 3,000 schools in the south east. School library provision also varies widely. Many schools have literacy coordinators or teachers who add the library to their other duties. Some local authorities have a specialist schools library service. Organisations such as the School Library Association support school librarians.

Reader development organisations

This includes several major national organisations. Some have paid professional staff, such as the National Literacy Trust, the English and Scottish Book Trusts and the Reading Agency. Others such as the Federation of Children’s Book Groups are run by volunteers. Major programmes include annual events such as World Book Day, occasional ones such as the National Year of Reading or ongoing programmes such as Reading the Game, operated through football clubs. Many offer prizes, competitions, events, special publications or advice and resources for children, parents and professionals.

Reading recovery programmes

Many charitable organisations such as Reading Quest, Volunteer Reading Help and Our Right to Read send trained volunteers into schools to support children who are having difficulty learning to read. As well as teaching the mechanics of reading, tutors often use games and activities and stories to engage children’s interest and motivation.

Literary festivals

Many literary festivals offer children’s events. Some such as Bath Children’s Festival focus entirely on children. Several festivals, of which the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival is an example, have a charitable educational arm which runs children’s literature related projects throughout the year.

Literature and story centres

At present there is one dedicated children’s literature centre in the south east, the Roald Dahl Museum & Story Centre in Great Missenden, and a major national archive at Seven Stories in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Storytelling centres include The Discover Story Centre in east London, Mythstories in Wen, Shropshire and the Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh.

Arts education organisations

These vary from national organisations such as Creative Partnerships which brings a wide range of creative activities into schools (which can include activities such as storytelling) to more specialised organisations such as New Writing South which focuses on creative writing.

Arts organisations and venues

This includes theatres (such as Oxford Playhouse), arts centres (such as Norden Farm, Maidenhead) and arts festivals (such as CIAO!) which include children’s literature programming such as author events, storytelling workshops or dramatisations of children’s stories among their other arts activities. Many have education officers who list improving literacy or creativity among their aims.

Museums

The Museums and Libraries Association lists developing literacy among the many contributions of the museums sector. Some museums offer temporary or permanent children’s literature exhibitions (such as The A-Z of Literature at The Museum of Oxford, or the Wind in the Willows exhibit at River & Rowing, Henley-on-Thames). A growing number of museums include storytelling events in their programmes.

The book trade

Children’s book and comic publishers, book clubs (such as Book House) and bookshops offer a wide range of largely promotional author and illustrator events and online activities for children. Children’s authors and illustrators often have lively websites and there are many magazines, websites and blogs which review children’s books (such as Carousel or Achuka).

Media

Film, TV and radio and online media offer a spectrum of children’s literature related activities that range from dramatisations of children’s stories (eg BBC Jackanory) to schools programming to national literacy campaigns (eg BBC’s RAW and My Story strands). Many preschool programmes (eg Bob the Builder, Fifi and the Flowertots) produce websites and publications to support their franchise.

Academe

There is a growing number of university departments which conduct research and teach graduate and postgraduate courses in children’s literature. Many education departments, teacher training colleges and teacher organisations research literacy or run courses on aspects of teaching literacy. They tend not to run literacy programmes directly but may be involved in researching or evaluating them.

In addition there are many individual authors and illustrators, storytellers and other performers who offer activities in schools and other venues to excite children about books and stories.

Search sites

Story Museum directory: searchable directory of literacy organisations and projects, particularly in the south east

National Literacy Trust: resources for parents and professionals, and much more

New Writing South’s Writer’s Directory: database of writers in the south-east