At Bookmark Reading, reading isn’t just about books. The literacy charity gives children the reading skills and confidence they need for a fair chance at life.

The charity will be delivering its first lot of ‘Bookmark Box for Ukraine‘ to Ukrainian children, aged 5-9, who have recently arrived in the UK. 

There are thousands of children arriving in the UK, separated from their loved ones and belongings, and Bookmark wants to help them start their new chapter in the UK feeling secure, welcome, and inspired. The box will offer children something of their own at a time when they may have left everything behind.

What’s in the Bookmark Box?

Each child will receive high-quality books in Ukrainian and English, a tablet pre-loaded with multilingual eBooks, literacy and language apps, activities together with a SIM card to stay in touch with family and friends, school stationery sets and sensory games and story-telling aides for therapeutic play.

The distribution took place at the Association for Polish Family in Merton Community Centre.

This is all part of the ongoing and urgent appeal Bookmark Box for Ukraine which is seeking to raise £1 million to supply 5,000 welcome Book Boxes to Ukrainian children.

The Bookmark Boxes include familiar Ukrainian books as well as picture books to reflect the refugee experience.

One book included in the box The Fabulous Lost and Found’ has been translated by the author, Mark Pallis into Ukrainian by a Ukrainian translator specifically for the appeal. Jay Stansfield, author and illustrator of award-winning colouring book ‘Squibbles’ has commissioned an exclusive colouring sheet to be included in the box, so children can make it their own.

The tablets within the Bookmark Box have been loaded with books in multiple languages and apps such as ChatterStars to build their familiarity with the English language. TheSIM card with mobile data allowance will also allow the children to stay in touch with friends and family displaced around the world.

The sensory games within the Bookmark Box are vital tools often recommended to aid refugee children in early education.

Stefania with puppet from the Bookmark Box (Credit: Bookmark Reading)
Stefania with puppet from the Bookmark Box (Credit: Bookmark Reading)

Hear from Ukrainian families and supporters

Mykhailo Radchenko is a Ukrainian father from Kyiv who arrived in the UK last month with his wife and two children Mark and Stefania. Both children started school in Merton a couple of weeks ago. They each received a Bookmark Box.

Mykhailo said:

“My children are very happy with the boxes – Mark’s favourite part of the box is the pencil case because he doesn’t have one for school.”

Slawek Szczepanski, CEO, Association for Polish Family PYZA, has been supporting Ukrainian families living in the area, they said:

“The children were so happy receiving the Bookmark Boxes. It was great to see the kids smiling. For us, it might be nothing but for these families it is everything. It means a lot to these kids. They have no toys, they arrived in Merton with just a backpack. We are trying to help who we can at the Association for Polish Family. We know it is hard for these families to go through the necessary steps to have a normal life.”

Naomi Martin, Director of Commonside Trust added: 

“It has been really nice to hear the happy noises and see their faces, the children feel really special and they will go home and have a nice evening now.”

Sharon Pindar, Founder and Chair of Bookmark Reading Charity said:

“Children are fleeing Ukraine, leaving so much behind. They may arrive in the UK with nothing and will need to start a new life whilst healing from trauma. They may not be able to attend school straight away, so will need support with their education. Language barriers may also leave them feeling isolated. The Bookmark Box will give them tools and resources to help them feel secure and begin the process of healing. We want to give them a warm welcome and help them to start a new chapter in their life. We want to offer comfort in stories.”  

Find out more and support Bookmark Reading here.

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About Author

Uzma Gulbahar holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University College of London. She is particularly interested in exploring untold stories surrounding marginalised groups, identity and culture.

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