Five North Belfast primary schools recently celebrated completing a Book Buddies Programme aimed at improving literacy, building friendships and addressing social and emotional well being.
Managed by Barnardo's NI 'Collaborating for Change' service, Book Buddies is delivered by teachers and also volunteers recruited and trained by the the Verbal Arts Centre. Almost fifty children from across the five primary school took part in the programme. The five schools had previously worked with Barnardo's on its Ready To Learn early years literacy programme. The five schools taking part in the 26 week programme were Holy Cross girls' PS, Holy Family PS, Seaview PS, Currie PS and St Patrick's.
Barnardo’s NI Director Lynda Wilson said: “Barnardo’s knows the huge impact a small amount of extra literacy support can have for a child. Book Buddies has taken that a step further by introducing an element of community collaboration with an emphasis on training teachers and local volunteers so that the programme can continue to grow and reach more children.”
Children’s Commissioner Koulla Yiasouma said: “Independent reading opens children’s minds and imaginations and develops communication skills. The Book Buddies Programme has given children in North Belfast the gift of exploring books in a fun and engaging way which I hope will increase the children’s love for reading now and in the future. Huge congratulations to the pupils and schools involved and to the local volunteers for taking part in this Programme.”
Currie Primary School Principal Ashleigh Glasgow said: “Book Buddies was a unique programme which helped introduce a love of reading and a love of sharing stories for our children. It had a really positive impact that also included building self confidence, communication skills and creating social connections.”
Verbal Arts Chief Executive James Kerr said: “Book Buddies includes reading aloud, shared reading and close reading all aimed at encouraging reading for enjoyment. Reading also leads to discussions and conversations which can lead to friendships, which in turn creates bonds and stronger communities.”
Children’s Writing Fellow NI Myra Zepf said: “Communication is so important and learning how to express ourselves is vital in every aspect of our lives. Using poetry and prose Book Buddies encourages a whole new world of imagination and creativity which is so important for young minds.”
The children who took part in Book Buddies were each gifted a Doodle Diary book supplied by No Alibis bookshop.
Pictured (l-r) Leah Worbey (10), Molly Jameson (11), NI Children's Writing Fellow Myra Zepf, Daryl Cowan (10 and Josh Doherty (9).