Omotayo's story

Mum Omotayo shares how BookTrust's care packages kept her son's love of reading alive during the coronavirus pandemic.

An illustration of a mother and son reading together in bed © Hannah Shaw 2021

Seven-year-old Lanre and his mum, Omotayo, are used to big changes, having moved to England from Nigeria in 2017.

'It's a big difference,' admits Omotayo, who settled into her new life in south east London thanks to a local community group of mums who got together to share skills and support each other.

'We would learn about sewing, sometimes we'd do make up, and so many other things that we were building through the community. We used to come together, see each other and talk at length. It's really friendly.'

The impact of coronavirus

Then came the coronavirus. 'I really miss the group. The lockdown, you know, it really changed one's life. For three months we were just at home. We missed meeting parents and teachers at school.'

For Lanre, along with missing school, the closure of the library interrupted his zest for reading.

'He really enjoys reading,' his mum says. 'He'd just got a certificate for completing the winter book challenge between January and March at the library.

'He can read on his own now! I let him read first and will assist him with a word that is a little bit difficult for him to pronounce or needs to be explained.'

But it's new books that excite him and make him want to read more.

Omotayo explains, 'When he gets a new book he's eager to know what it is. The old ones he will tell me, "I've read it." But if it is a new one that he has not come across, he quickly picks it up.'

Receiving books from BookTrust

With lockdown closing his school and local library, Lanre's flow of new books had almost come to an end. But Lanre's passion for reading was kept alive after BookTrust gave the mums of Omotayo's community group new books for their children.

Lanre received a National Geographic Animal Records book, which he devoured.

'He was excited to get it. He read it three times! There was a lot he hadn't come across like the longest fish, the tallest animal, and he learned about countries. There is a lot in that book.'

It seems to have inspired him. Asked what Lanre's favourite type of book is, Omotayo reveals, 'Actually he is focused on nature, animals and the environment now.'

And having finished year two at school, Lanre plans to spend the summer getting ready for year three with his head in more books.

His mum says, 'Now we are on holiday and there is no more school work, we have a lot of time where he can read on his own.'

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