Ready Teddy Go!

Schools, Libraries and Learning
09:06, Monday, 18th February 2019

Five-year-old Teddy, from Beltoft, could be described as the Imagination Library’s biggest fan, having most – if not all – of the books he’s received through the scheme since he was a baby.

The Imagination Library is a free book-gifting scheme for children in North Lincolnshire. Children get books through the post every month from birth until their fifth birthday.

Mum Katie signed Teddy up to the free book-gifting scheme when he was just two or three months old after seeing a post about it on Facebook.

“I think the scheme is an absolutely brilliant idea. Books are really important to me and now Teddy is a massive book fan too; he loves reading”, she said.

“I can see the difference it’s made to Teddy’s language skills, his reading ability and his vocabulary.

“When the Imagination Library books came through the post, that new one would become Teddy’s favourite and we’d have to read that one every day for a few nights afterwards. Even I know some of his books off by heart now!”

Now Teddy is five, he’s graduated from the Imagination Library scheme, but it hasn’t diminished his love of books. His parents seek out books in the same series as some of the Imagination Library ones he loves.

Teddy loves his Imagination Library books so much, he was invited onto the BBC One Show to speak about the books with the scheme’s creator, Dolly Parton, on Friday 15 February 2019.

Having kept all his Imagination Library books, as his reading ability improves Teddy often goes back to read for himself the books he got when he was a baby.

Five-year-old Teddy said he likes to read to his mummy “at school time, and then [she reads] to me at bed time and at not bedtime.”

When asked to choose his favourites, Teddy counted out no less than 23 of the colourful books he’s received from the scheme over the past five years. The much-loved titles included Nick Sharratt and Sue Heap’s, ‘Alphabet Ice Cream’ – “because of the big octopus holding pizza” – and Alex Latimer’s ‘Lion Vs Rabbit’.

Dad Chris said the scheme has opened his eyes to the importance of books and reading. “I wasn’t brought up with books and I’m not an avid reader but I can really see the value of reading books with him”, he said.

Teddy not only shares his stories with mum and dad, but with his older siblings Matthew and Talia. Mum Katie says that reading together gives them quality family time. “Life’s so busy, it’s nice to have that time in the evening together and talk over a book. It opens up wider conversations about what Teddy has done in the day and he uses his imagination to make up his own stories too.”

Cllr David Rose, cabinet member for Children, Families, Learning and Leisure on North Lincolnshire Council, said:

“We’re so proud of the Imagination Library in North Lincolnshire and the difference it makes to children’s learning from such a young age is of vital importance to us.

“The council has been committed to funding these fantastic books through the Imagination Library for all children under five in North Lincolnshire for a number of years and we’re now seeing the vast difference it makes to children’s attainment in their reading, writing and communication skills.

“Children like Teddy are a prime example of the great pride that our children take in these books and how they can still be enjoyed and revisited months and years after they first drop through the letter box.”

If you’re the parent of a child under five in North Lincolnshire and you’re not getting Imagination Library books each month, sign up for free online now at www.northlincs.gov.uk/imaginationlibrary.

On our website you can also find hints and tips for making the most out of your free books each month, including videos, rhymes and games to share with your children.

Mrs Buckle, Head of West Butterwick Primary School where Teddy is a pupil, also had praise for the impact of the Imagination Library on learning. She said:

“It’s super that the Imagination Library supports the development of a reading culture at home. Reading for pleasure at both home and school supports children in becoming confident, keen and capable readers.

“Research shows that children who read for pleasure have enhanced levels of text comprehension, an increased knowledge of grammar and show improvement in their writing.

“We are very lucky to have access to the Imagination Library in North Lincolnshire and to have parents who support and encourage a culture of reading in the home.”