Carla's story

Mum Carla explains how BookTrust's care packages helped her and her family during the coronavirus lockdown.

An illustration of a boy and a girl with BookTrust care packages © Hannah Shaw 2021

Living just five minutes' walk from a newly built library, books had never been too far away for Carla and Mário's three boys.

The eldest, Thiago, 10, was born in their native Portugal, while Gabriel, who is four, and Andrew, who has just turned one, were born in England.

Each of them loves books but, with such a wide age range, they are at very different stages of development.

Carla explains, 'Gabriel, who is going to start school, he likes books with shapes and numbers and the alphabet. He sometimes tells me stories. Andrew loves books with pictures.

'When they go to the nursery we leave at 5 o'clock and then stay in the library maybe half an hour, and they'll sit and read or look at the pictures.'

Thiago tends to bring his books home from school.

'He's autistic and loves to read. Just not with me! He likes trains, maps, countries, flags. Now he is fascinated by the Second World War. He wants to learn all about the Second World War.'

Once coronavirus struck, life in their tenth floor flat in south-east London changed.

'It's been very hard,' says Carla. 'They want to play outside, but they can't. School's shut. Nursery's shut. Libraries shut. There have been less books in the house. Sometimes one will have a book and everyone wants the same book.'

Thanks to BookTrust giving out books through a local community group, the boys didn't have to wait for the libraries and schools to open to have some new books to tussle over.

'They were excited and really liked them, the two youngest especially. They wanted to see every page, every picture. Gabriel wanted to tell me the story and use his imagination.'

Asked what difference owning a book rather than having to return it made to the boys, Carla laughs and admits, 'With the library books and the school books they have to be more careful with them!'

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