A scheme to bring the wonderful world of words to pre-school tots received a boost on Saturday when a Read and Play Day was staged on Hastings Pier.
The free event, organised by Imagine Nation, the Hastings-based charity founded by Annalise Elam, featured story-telling, singing, drama and play-themed events, all based on children’s books. There was also a book swap and a free book for each child.
Annalise said the charity was one of hundreds affiliated to singer Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library which has sent more than 80 million books to children world-wide.
She added: “Our aim to raise awareness of Imagine Nation and to raise money to buy books for local children who live in challenging circumstances. We want to promote the importance of reading and sharing books from an early age.”
The local charity was founded in March 2016, and initially helped 10 children aged under-five to receive books, thanks to funds from the Rotary Club of Senlac. It now has 18 children in involved in the scheme.
Annalise, who works with charity trustee Ruth Stringer, said more than 100 books had already been distributed to toddlers, and with £6,000 raised by runners in this year’s Hastings Half Marathon, Imagine’s next project is to supply books to 80 children.
She added: “ Our long-term aim to reach the whole of Hastings. It will have an amazing impact on the whole community.”
During Saturday’s event, creative writer and story-teller Ed Boxall launched five story-poems about the pier during the event which he compiled with help from students and pupils from the University of Brighton, Sussex Coast College, Hollington Primary Academy, Hastings Academy, and Silverhill Primary Academy. Some copies of the books will be donated to local schools.
Ed, who held story-telling workshops during Saturday’s event, said the books covered the history of the pier from its opening in 1872 until the fire in 2010.
Language teacher and story-teller Audra Fraser, from the Alexandra Park Greenhouse Group in Hastings, held reading sessions with toddlers using the book, In Wibbly’s Garden, by Mike Inkpen.
Other attractions included a stall manned by staff from East Sussex Libraries to promote its summer reading challenge called Animal Agents which starts on July 15. The borough council’s Play Hastings Team helped children make animals from the book Dear Zoo, by Rod Campbell, while the Treasure Tots Playgroup chose an arctic theme from the book, Blown Away, by Rod Biddulph for its play activities.
The Tiddlers drama group, performed Hairy Maclary’s Bone, by Lynley Dodd, and juggler Marina Vodloko entertained youngsters and taught them some skills.
More details about Imagine Nation from www.imagine-nation.uk.
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