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News story

Doncaster Stories gives the gift of reading to young carers

20 Jan 2020

Roald Dahl books

Doncaster Stories has teamed up with a local young carers group to give the gift of reading. We gave 12 young people (aged 9 – 12) a complete collection of Roald Dahl’s most famous works to help fill their book shelves at home.

The group discovered Doncaster Stories during our golden token initiative, when they did a treasure hunt to exchange tokens for a free book. Through this, Diane Smith, who runs the group, discovered that many of the children had never had a book of their own. This reflects the local picture more generally, as our new research shows that 1 in 8 children in Doncaster (11.4%) do not have a single book. As a result, these children are more likely to struggle at school.

Our Annual Literacy Survey compares children who do not own books with those who do, and we have found that children who own books are six times more likely to read above the expected level for their age (22% v 3.6%), and are more than twice as likely to agree that reading is cool (42.5% vs 16.6%). We’re hoping that their brand new Roald Dahl collections will encourage the young carers to read for pleasure.

Mike Leyland, Project Manager for Doncaster Stories, and Tara Chappell, Literacy Campaigns Manager for Doncaster Council, both attended the young carer's group to give the books to the children. We also ran book choice activities, based on hobbies and likes and dislikes, to help empower the children to choose books that they are likely to enjoy. There was also an opportunity to get creative too, as the group designed their own book covers. At the end of the session, the children were sent home with hot chocolate to enjoy whilst reading their new books.

The group runs on a fortnightly basis and gives the young people a chance to have respite from their caring role and to socialise with other children in similar situations. Mental wellbeing is a huge focus of the group, and the reading theme is set to continue. Future sessions will involve building a book shelf that the children can use as a free book swap. The group is also hoping that other local projects will get involved to help spread a love for reading.

Doncaster Stories is a community led campaign, so we’re always on the lookout for ways we can help existing projects via literacy. If you’d like to learn more, please get in touch at, or you can help by volunteering your time as a Literacy Champion.

“I am really excited to see the impact this will have on the families and hopefully in the future be able to try this out in the other young carers groups in Doncaster. Thank you so much for doing all this, I can’t say it enough how much this will be appreciated.”

Diane Smith, young carer group

"[My son] couldn't wait to ring me after group, he was so excited to tell me what they had been doing in group and [about] the books and goody bag he had been given"

Parent of young carer

Young carer chat play read
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