By Louise King, BBN warehouse volunteer
I’ve been volunteering at Baby Bank Network’s warehouse since June of last year. In my time I’ve sorted out bundles of baby clothes (still having nightmares about the unmatched socks), toys, shoes, muslins, toiletries, bibs and many other bits. It’s all lovely to sort (the cute little newborn vests…awww!) and very satisfying to create packs of usable items which I know will be invaluable to a family who needs them. But when I turned up to the warehouse one day and was asked to sort out the children’s books, I was in my element!
My father is a librarian and I was raised in a household of book lovers. We were immersed in high-quality books from day one (many of which were ‘ex-library’ copies, of course). One of my favourite memories as a teenager is me, my sister and brother frantically reading the same single copy of Harry Potter, which had just been released. We had to take turns to read it on a strict rota basis and had promised not to tell the others any spoilers. We also were all fans of the Northern Lights series by Philip Pullman (and remain so to this day). We loved younger children’s books also, and Allan and Janet Ahlberg were firm favourites, especially ‘Burglar Bill’ and ‘Each Peach Pear Plum’.
I am now a parent to two daughters, aged 6 and 1. The six year-old has always been a fan of books from the Pip and Posy series when she was 3, to her current interest in The Worst Witch. She has recently discovered that she can read to herself, which has been a total revelation! The one year-old has just discovered the classic ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ and wants it at every bedtime.
I’m also a teacher to a Year One class and one of my favourite times of day is reading storybooks to them. Even children who struggle to concentrate and behave are captivated by a good story and sit in a trance when they are read to. As a teacher I also know the importance of developing a love of reading – if they can read to themselves they can learn more in every subject from Science to Geography to Maths. Reading improves their writing, speech, vocabulary and understanding and this has been proven in studies time and time again. We always advise parents that even if you don’t have time to do homework with your child, find time to read with them as that will have more impact than anything else.
Back to the warehouse…. On the day in question I sat happily in a little room surrounded by piles of books. I sorted them into vague age groups and created little bundles. We try to give out bundles that contain a range of books – such as feely books, vocabulary books, lift-the-flap, faces, ones about babies, animals, not to mention a good story of course! I was as happy as can be and love the thought of those little bundles doing their magic in homes across Bristol. I came home to read Spot The Dog to my toddler and listen to my six-year-old read her school books to me. That is a perfect day!
At Baby Baby Bank Network, we are always keen to receive preloved children’s books so that families can enjoy the magic of storytelling together. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have books to donate.