Funding for children’s reading development

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Books. Pic by JMU Journalism

Books. Pic by JMU Journalism

Around £380,000 of funding has been secured for a major social project in Liverpool which will encourage young children to embrace reading and education.

The Reader Organisation, the social enterprise behind the project, will use funds from the Social Investment Business Grant in order to convert a Grade II listed barn within the site of Calderstones Mansion House in Calderstones Park into an interactive literary space for community access.

The conversion of the building into what will now be known as the ‘Story Barn’ was accepted by Liverpool City Council and the development will now cater for the educational needs of children in the area.

The development will include an exhibition room as well as an interactive space for parents to bring their children to engage with literature and develop their reading skills outside of the school environment.

The development was also inspired by similar projects such as Seven Stories in Newcastle, the national centre for children’s reading.

George Dawkins, Development Coordinator for the Reader Organisation, told JMU Journalism: “Liverpool City Council put the whole site up as surplus to requirements and we put in a bid against several competitors; some of which were commercial, looking to use the site as more office space. In the end we were successful and ended up signing a 125 year lease.

“During the consultation we became aware that there was a real need for a dedicated provision for kids and that’s what drove the decision. The Story Barn is built around the idea of kids reading for pleasure and education as opposed to doing other activities,” he added.

The Reader Organisation intends to build its work in the barn around collaboration with local schools as part of plans to make Calderstones Mansion House an international centre for reading.

About Daniel Wright, JMU Journalism