Some of Doorstep Library’s group of volunteers
DOORSTEP LIBRARY – Helping children to read for pleasure gives them enormous advantages in the future.
Weaving their way through the sprawling walkways, carrying rucksacks and little plastic stools, Jill and Allyson are regular fixtures on this Hammersmith housing estate. They have been coming here together every Tuesday for the past two years with one purpose: to share their love of reading with children from some of the most deprived families in the borough.
The women are just two of the 95 volunteers for Doorstep Library whose aim is to make books accessible to children – not just in libraries and schools but at home too. It’s a busy evening. Each pair visit the same five or six families every week in 20-minute slots which, Jill says, is plenty of time to connect with the family, engage a child and instil a lifetime love of stories.
Katie Bareham – Director
‘There are numerous studies showing that reading for pleasure is one of the key factors to a child’s future success,’ says Katie Bareham, who became the Doorstep library’s first employee in 2010 and is now its director. Katie insists there is no secret formula. ‘We just role model what parents can do in their own home,’ she says. But there is no denying that Katie’s leadership is very much a factor in the charity’s growth.
Along with Hammersmith and Fulham there are now two further projects in Westminster with plans for Lambeth well on the way.
‘These are exciting times.’ says Katie though her ultimate vision might seem something of a paradox.
‘My ideal scenario would be for parents to say they don’t need us any more because they’re reading with their children now and going to the library.’ Jill agrees:
‘It’s wonderful when you realise you have really got through to a child. I call it my “Ah!” moment. I’d been reading Disney books to one little girl for months and unexpectedly she picked out a picture book about the writer and civil rights activist Maya Angelou and said “That girl’s just like me!”. She saw Angelou’s success as potential for her own. The next week she read more about Maya Angelou. The spark was lit. That was special.’
COULD YOU VOLUNTEER?
The charity is looking for more volunteers and there are two information sessions coming up: July 14, 11am-12.30pm, Fulham Broadway and July 25, 11am-12.30pm, Shepherd’s Bush.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to book your place.
020 8870 1476
Dawes Road Hub
20 Dawes Road, SW6 7EN