Book pledge a novel idea for Children’s Ward

Gaye McDonald, Play Specialist, and Leanne Garrett

Children at Blackpool Victoria Hospital will have new pages to turn after the Children’s Ward was gifted over £250 worth of books.

Owner of Mrs G and the Reading Tepee Bookshop, Leanne Garrett, 32, sparked the idea for a community book pledge when her little girl Ophelia spent some time at the hospitals A&E Department.

The time spent with her daughter in The Vic made her realise that the hospital could do with a wider, more current, selection of books.

She said: “I’m passionate about getting children to read, and being able to experience books might help them discover a love for them. You can be sat around for a long time when you’re in hospital with a poorly child. So, our go-to is books.”

As well as owning her own business, the mum of two is a part-time teacher at a local primary school and an organiser for the book publisher Usborne.

Determined to raise the profile of reading for enjoyment and not just for homework, her community book pledge is a small part of her efforts. Sponsored reads, pop-up book shops and book clubs are just a few of the ways Leanne encourages children and their parents to pick up a book.

“It’s like my secret mission to get everyone into reading and ditch the iPads. A lot of people will say that their children don’t like reading but I say, no, they’ve just not found the right book yet!”

Local businesses were keen to get on board with the initiative, including: Hungry Monkey, Toddler Sense, Bee Bop Sensory, Slimming World, Kidslingo French Fylde Coast and BilinguaSing Fylde Coast. Usborne themselves gave 20% of the total pledge back in even more books.

Leanne praises the range of books that Usborne offer and explains that as well as supporting a positive attitude towards discussing mental health, their books also prompt conversations about body image and gender identity.

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