REFUGEE children who have started new lives in Coventry have been given the gift of reading.
Families at the Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre, on Bishop Street, were presented with 500 children’s books to help encourage a love of literacy.
The books were given to the National Literacy Trust, an independent charity dedicated to raising literacy levels in the UK, by an anonymous donor who wanted to help young refugee children.
The charity then visited Coventry, which has one of the highest Syrian refugee populations in the country, last week to pass on the kind donation to the youngsters.
The books handed out were in English, but parents were also handed guidance sheets translated into Arabic to highlight the importance of a good home learning environment and an early love of books.
Welcoming the donation, director of the Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre, Sabir Zazai said: “When families are displaced and people flee their homes due to war and conflict, it is the education of children that is affected the most.
“Many end up without any formal schooling and others with no access to books or other learning materials.
“At Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre we are proud of the work we do in helping all newly arrived groups and in particular refugee children to have access to education and restart their learning.
“In the past twelve months, we have observed many great examples of people and organisations offering to help refugees.
“One of the greatest example is this donation of books.
“We are extremely grateful for this kind gesture which will put smiles on many faces.”
Titles donated to the children and their families included Peppa Pig’s Sports Day, Nursery Rhymes to Share and In The Night Garden.
Nada Hassanatou, project officer from the National Literacy Trust, said just 10 minutes a day of reading aloud with a child makes a big difference to their literacy and development.
She added: “The books haven’t been given to force these children to read or speak English.
“We just hope they foster a home environment of reading for enjoyment, as children who read for pleasure read far above their reading age.
“We want to empower these youngsters and their parents, many of whom have been through some difficult times, to love spending time together and love literature together.”