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Children’s Book Project

The Children’s Book Project and AT The Bus have joined forces to put together a unique lockdown bundle of books and creative resources to be gifted to 10,000 young people aged 3 -11 years in London and Oxford at the beginning of what would have been the summer term.  Their Story & Draw pack has been designed to inspire enjoyment, creativity, escapism and emotional wellbeing amongst children as they navigate the restrictions of lockdown life and will include three age-relevant books as well as paper, pencils and other resources, for recipients to read, draw, make and dream.

The Story & Draw packs are being distributed safely via schools in 12 London boroughs (Barking & Dagenham, Brent, Ealing, Enfield, Hackney, Hammersmith & Fulham, Hillingdon, Newham, RBKC, Southwark, Tower Hamlets and Westminster) and to a number of schools in Oxfordshire.  Books have been donated by Penguin, Little Tiger and by book buying families across the capital.  Printing courtesy of Columbia Threadneedle Investments and Woodrow Press.  Art supplies have been donated by Premier Paper, G.F. Smith and Fedrigoni.  Each bundle will include a unique bookmark designed by artist and illustrator Jane Ray.

Anthony Mannix, Head Teacher at a west London primary school noted the impact that packs have had this week amongst his community:

“With the help of the Children’s Book Project and AT The Bus we’ve been able to gift a bundle of books and art materials to every child at our school this week. Many families in our school community live in overcrowded and challenging circumstances. A special delivery has been a source of great excitement in an otherwise uneventful week in lockdown and we’ve been overwhelmed by messages from children and parents. Some have eagerly absorbed themselves in a good read whilst others have been creative within minutes of the bundle arriving. Parents are delighted to see their children moving away from screens and we have seen a love of reading and drawing reignited.”

Anthony Mannix, Barlby Primary School

The Children’s Book Project gifts new and gently used books to children year-round, working closely with teachers to enable children and young people to choose and take home a book of their own.  Their aim is that every child should have the chance to own their own books and to feel part of a wider reading community.  The charity gifts over 100k books each year and more than ever at the moment wants donated books to find their way to children’s bedrooms. 

Author & illustrator Lauren Child is excited about the impact that these books will have on children’s wellbeing: 

“Books are both a retreat from life and an expansion of life; they transport us to other worlds and meet us in our own.”

Lauren Child

The charity’s founder, Liberty Venn, is grateful for teachers’ efforts to help put books into children’s hands at this time:

“At a time when children’s daily routines have been turned upside down and their social contact removed, stories, illustrations and the images they conjure up provide comfort, humour and inspiration.  More than ever, our books need to be in children’s homes where they can be discovered and enjoyed.  We are delighted that through our association with AT The Bus they will additionally be accompanied by the resources to support a child’s wellbeing through creativity.”

AT The Bus is a small charity based in Oxford that offers a school-based programme of art as therapy to support the education, health and wellbeing of children and young people.   The charity was founded by Dr Juli Beattie OBE and a like-minded group of professionals. Juli previously established and directed The Art Room charity and developed the Beattie Methodology, a creative therapeutic intervention that supports mental wellbeing, alleviates anxiety, develops resilience and helps young people build their self-esteem, self-confidence and independence. 

Artist Grayson Perry and actress Juliet Stevenson are two AT The Bus patrons recommending creativity at this challenging time:

“Making art takes us to an absorbing and meaningful place inside ourselves which is a useful escape if you are in lockdown.”

Grayson Perry

“In lockdown, our bodies can’t get out and about – but our imaginations can fly. There’s no lockdown for dreams, ideas, visions…. and there couldn’t be a better time to let your creativity roam around. So do get doodling, drawing, painting, making stuff…..and enjoy the freedom of that!”

Juliet Stevenson

Juli Beattie, Founder of AT The Bus, had this to say about the need for creative stimulation now, more than ever:

“Now that schools have closed for most children and we have had to cease running our sessions, we have been keen to find a way to continue to offer support in these challenging times.  We are well aware that for most children daily life has become a strange place of confinement, isolation from friends and ever-present anxiety.  We worry for our students and for all the young people who are currently unable to access art as therapy or their education. This collaboration is well timed, and we are delighted to be working closely with Children’s Book Project. Putting books together with paper and pencil is vital for all children.”