"It can plant a seed. It is a gift that can have a domino effect" - How our festive book parcels are making a difference to children in Manchester

Published on: 21 November 2022

We spoke to Aaron Holleran, Project Manager at Active Communities Network about the difference BookTrust’s festive book gifts made to the young people in his community.  

Active Communities Network is a charity that uses sport as a pathway into education, training and employment.They also use photography, art, culture and fashion, as well as books and reading, to help empower young people to make positive life decisions.  

Aaron says: 

“Across our projects, we work with around 1,000 young people every year. These kids have a lot of tough things they need to navigate through, day-to-dayWe are working with them to do good things in a positive way, and not go into crime. We work with them to avoid peer pressure and get them doing something positive and to make them proud of themselves. 

About reading 

“For many of the kids, reading is not something they get massively involved with. Reading needs to be about a topic they relate to and are interested in. We need to make reading fun for them.  

And for many of these kids, they don’t own many or any books. It’s not until we give them a book and they own a book that they might be eager to read it. 

BookTrust festive book gifts 

“We gave the Christmas books out during activity sessions. We also used social media to engage with parents and kids we weren’t working with, to give them out to those who need them. Then I put a box in the car and go and give them out.  

The books were given to children predominantly aged eight to 16, but most of them were probably in the eight to 12 age bracket. We put their names on the envelope and personalised it, so they knew it was a gift. 

A lot of the kids were amazed and really happy. That was really good to see. It made a difference, because for some, it might have been the only gift they got, sadly.  It is really powerful for them to know that people care about them, and thought about them, and gave them a gift. And the fact it is a book, is just brilliant. And now they might be more intrigued to read, going forward, because of that gift.  

It can plant a seed. It is a gift that can have a domino effect. 
By giving these books, it’s often a starting point for themIt could instil a new enjoyment of reading, and they could go on to invest themselves in reading. We won’t know that until they are older, but we can plant those seeds.  

The style and quality of the books we get from BookTrust is key. The books can be read by kids with different reading levels, and that is really important. They engage, but they also can challenge them. 

Together, we can light up Christmas for disadvantaged and vulnerable children. Please give today.

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