Maria, Foster Carer, Southampton

'We’ve been fostering for 11 years. During that time we must have had over 60 different children join our family. We’ve looked after children of all ages. Some have been with us on an emergency placement for a couple of days, whilst others, we take on longer placements that might last years.'

'It can be difficult at times and being a foster carer is a bit like being on a roller coaster. Some of the children we care for have experienced neglect or abuse. Some might be very withdrawn, or have additional needs, like speech and communication issues, or autism.'

'It’s important to give them time, and remember each child is different. When they are with us, they are part of our family and we take the time to understand what they like and don’t like.'

Foster children’s experiences with books and reading

'I’d say 80% of the children I’ve cared for have never been read to at home before. Most children that come to us are drawn to books aimed at children younger than they are. I think it’s because they’ve missed these stories when they were younger and so we start there. If they don’t like a book, we’ll leave it for a while and try again later'.

About BookTrust’s Letterbox Club

'We’ve been receiving the BookTrust parcels for children we foster for years and, love them. They get really excited because they know what’s in them. It’s like getting a present on your birthday. It’s a great way to introduce them to different things and we get a real mix of books from educational ones to more engaging ones.'

'We feel very lucky to receive the books from BookTrust and, look forward to them when they arrive. We’ve had books on Egypt, engineering, planets and even worms, from BookTrust, as well as storybooks. The children will put the books in their bedroom on their bookshelves and take them with them when they leave. It may be the first book that they own. They like the posters too and these go on the walls in their bedroom, alongside their schoolwork. These kids don’t receive that many parcels through the post, so it really is a lovely thing for them. And they get letters from the author too. They love that. How many other children get a letter from the author?'

Sharing books with foster children

'I read to the children every night. It definitely helps because its personal time that the children get with me and brings us closer. When life is hectic and we’re all juggling different schedules it’s important to have that time together. That’s when we sit and chat and they’ll tell me about their day or what they got up to at school.'

Selecting books for foster children

'We do have to be very careful with the types of books we choose. Some books might have difficult themes in them. We don’t have those problems with the books we receive from BookTrust, they make them laugh.'