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Sensory Story-time

Today, the Bookseller’s Association has announced the successful applicants for their latest tranche of the Diversity and Inclusiveness Grant launched in 2018.

After months of anxiously awaiting to hear if we were successful, we have found out that we were! So now we can tell you all about our plans, including the catalyst behind it.

As you may know, Mrs Claus visits us once a year, to give out free gifts to children who are in town for the Brentwood Light Up. It’s a really special time and one that we absolutely love. However, for children with sensory needs, the experience can be rather overwhelming, which is why we provided a sensory friendly grotto for children in 2018. Because the event was very well received, it will become a permanent fixture in our annual calendar.

The grotto got us thinking about what else we could do to support families with sensory needs. We wanted to provide a regular story-time session, with a resource lending library available. But, to get it right, in terms of adapting our space, creating the perfect loan resources and ensuring that the storyteller has the perfect books, songs etc. takes money…enter the brilliant BA Diversity and Inclusiveness Grant.

Ta da!

Here’s a quick run down of our plans:

  • The sessions will run once a month in the first instance.
  • Places will be booked in advance, so that the space doesn’t become over crowded.
  • Families can borrow story bags (for a refundable deposit).
  • A social story will be emailed to families, introducing the space and storyteller.
  • A schedule of focus stories will be made available, so that families can pick and choose sessions to suit their child/ren.

As soon as we are ready to rock and roll, we’ll let you know. You may need to give us a month or so, to gather resources – we are super excited and hope that you are too.

In the meantime, if you have any questions at all, let us know.

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Looking Forward

As the New Year peeps its head around the corner, I thought I’d reflect on some of the highlights. We have worked with so many wonderful authors and illustrators this year, as part of the Brentwood Children’s Literary Festival, as well as Macmillan’s Authors Assemble, school and shop events, that it’s impossible to pick out just a few. Having said that, an indoor snowball fight with Clara Vulliamy and Polly Faber, was particularly joyous!

I was honoured to present the wonderful Emma Carroll with the BAMB award for best MG title of the year. The BA have been working tirelessly this year, championing the work that booksellers do. Chicken and Frog, and more importantly, some of our fantastic customers, took part in a film, which was shared at a very special meeting at the Houses of Parliament. And lastly, in terms of the BA, we were regional finalists in the Independent Bookshop of the Year category.

Our customers are, of course, daily highlights. They are the reason that we continue to do what we do. And lastly, the #giveabook campaign, which ran for the second year. We were truly overwhelmed by people’s generosity, with gifts from as far flung as Singapore! We delivered 215 wrapped parcels – some of which contained two books. Fantastic!

So, looking forward, what’s to come? Well, we will be continuing to work with the CFFA, supporting children in care. Plans are already well underway for a #FosteringFebruary event, with Sibeal Pounder (eek!).

After working with the glorious Really Big Pants Theatre Company in the summer, we are delighted to say that we will be holding a multi-school event, to launch their brand new book. Oh, it’s going to be so much fun.

Lisa Thompson’s brilliant second novel, The Light Jar, has arrived. To celebrate, we have school events ready to go in January, so we’re starting on a high.

And…the Chicken and Frog writing competition is making a welcome comeback. Harriet Muncaster has very kindly offered a signed piece of artwork as a prize, as well as being a guest judge.

It’s been a great year, and we are so grateful for everyone who supports us in what we do: our customers, authors, illustrators, publishers, publicists, the BA, schools, fellow booksellers, reps, family and friends.

Happy reading and a peaceful 2018.