Peabody's literacy project proves a great success in its first year.

Peabody’s literacy project, Reading from the Start, in partnership with VINCI Facilities and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, both launched in Hackney last summer.

Since then, more than 100 Hackney families have benefitted from fun family activities that have taken place at 36 Reading from the Start 'book corners', offering storytelling sessions, nursery rhyme singalongs, arts and crafts and events based on celebrations, such as the birth of Prince George.

From left to right: Four-year-old Michelle Frimpong-Power, volunteer Doris Fisher, four- year-old Tori Hylton Francis, volunteer Patricia Tejaiye and two-year-old Olivia Mae Marshall

Open to parents with children aged between two and five years of age, Reading from the Start, which is delivered by volunteers, aims to help parents support their child’s literacy skills in their first five years that will assist them later in life.

With a little bit of help from Dolly

In partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, more than 150 Peabody residents have registered with and are receiving a free, carefully selected, age-related book every month, helping to improve their literacy skills and foster a love of reading.

Peabody's Reading from the Start program is exclusive to Peabody residents aged 0 – 5 years of age living in Hackney.

Great results

Peabody’s Director of Community Programmes, Veronica Kirwan said: “Reading from the Start has had a great first year, working with more than 100 families in Hackney alone.

"Research shows that reading with your child is the single most important thing a parent or carer can do to help children’s education.

We hope many more families will join us and benefit from this great initiative.”

Wider benefits

VINCI Facilities Business & Community Investment Manager, Josephine O’Connor said: "We knew this was going to be a programme that could go way beyond its immediate aims and improve many life skills, not only for children and their families but the wider community as well.

...Families that previously felt isolated in their homes are now a part of not only this superb educational programme for their children, but play a role in the community and fully engaged in the learning experience for themselves."

She continued "The local volunteers make a vital contribution, they have a real sense of ownership and it is their passion that will keep the project alive."

Startling statistics

Around one in four children living in London leave primary school with a lower than average reading capability which can have a major impact on their long-term life chances.

Research has shown that reading with a child during the first years of their development can have a significant impact on increasing cognitive abilities and language skills later in life.

Find out more

If you are a Hackney resident and would like to apply for free books, or if you'd like to volunteer to help children with their reading, visit our Reading from the Start page.