Care Experienced History Month: How care experienced young people help us choose our Letterbox Club books

Published on: 24 April 2024

Our Letterbox Club sends carefully curated parcels of books and resources to children who are looked after or vulnerable.

For Care Experienced History Month, BookTrust's Head of Book Selection and Purchasing Caroline Hill-Trevor shares how care experienced young people form a vital part of our Letterbox Club selection panels.

A photo of a child sitting on a sofa opening a Letterbox Club parcel

At BookTrust, we recognise the importance of the child’s voice in helping to inform and shape our book offers and we hear from children and young people directly in a variety of ways.

The voice of the child is especially significant for our Letterbox Club offer, as it is designed for cared for and previously looked after children, as well as those children who may have a social worker or are experiencing disadvantage or vulnerabilities.  

From our research, we know that Letterbox Club resources have a lasting impact on reading habits and a positive effect on children's emotional wellbeing, and recognise how important it is that the books chosen for inclusion in Letterbox Club parcels are books that any child would enjoy because they are fun and exciting reads as well as being expertly curated for the programme to resonate appropriately with the children who receive them.

That is why our book selection process is so rigorous.

A child in school uniform sitting in a classroom looking at the back of a book after opening a Letterbox Club parcel

Everyone involved in the selection process understands the needs of the children for whom this offer is designed, from readers who help us to review books and create the shortlist, to panel members who help us to confirm the final titles.

The panel is made up of people working in local authority Virtual School teams, teachers in schools, foster carers and care experienced young people. Every panelist brings something different to the discussions in terms of relevant knowledge, skills, understanding and experience.

We also hear directly from the children receiving Letterbox Club parcels when they write to us using our postcards or complete our annual survey. We speak regularly with practitioners so that they can share with us how well the resources are received and how we can make continuous improvements.

In particular, the contribution made by care experienced young people to our book selection process is greatly valued by BookTrust for the distinctive perspective that they offer.

A photo of a girl excitedly taking out the contents of a Letterbox Club parcel; she is sitting on a sofa next to a smiling woman

Care experienced young people provide a unique dimension to our book selection panels. From personal experience, they understand the impact that the transformational benefits of reading have on social and emotional wellbeing, as well as improved life chances.

They also know how the right resources, in the form of both fiction and non-fiction books, can support family engagement by providing springboard opportunities for conversations and experiences both in and outside the home environment, all of which are so important to build bonding opportunities, positive attachment and self-esteem.

Our care experienced panel members are always thoughtful, sensitive and insightful. Their insights stem from their lived experience. They listen to the views of other panellists and share their own views generously, working to our agreed criteria for what makes a book suitable for inclusion in our Letterbox Club offer, so that we can continue to provide the very best opportunities to bring the magic of reading to children aged 3-13.

If you would like to know more about Letterbox Club please contact us by emailing us on [email protected] or calling us on 020 7801 8805.

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Letterbox Club

Join hundreds of schools and local authorities using Letterbox Club to bring the magic of reading and numeracy to pupil premium and vulnerable learners age 3-13.

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