Sheffield “Book Flood” initiative to brighten children’s Christmas

A Sheffield book donation initiative has reached their initial donation target of £500 today.

The Book Flood raised £565 through crowd-funding and is now looking to reach their £2,000 stretch target within the next 10 days.

Sioned-Mair Richards, organiser and former elected Sheffield City Councillor, said they were looking to give as many children as possible a book for Christmas, based on the Icelandic Christmas Eve tradition known as “Jólabókaflóðið”.

The campaign, backed by Lord David Blunkett, has requested donors to hand in books that represent the diversity of the children of Sheffield.

Ms Richards said: “We want to reflect the normality of a diverse community – it’s not exotic. Books that we buy reflect the children who get it.”

She added that Sheffield’s literacy rankings also influenced her and Victoria Penman, co-organiser, to start this campaign.

Sheffield’s Brightside and Hillsborough were fifth in a list of places in England with the greatest literacy need published by the National Literacy Trust developed with Experian earlier this year.

Ms Richards acknowledged that children can get books at the library for free but added: “There’s just something really special about having your own book.”

Ms Penman added in a press release: “It is impossible to fully measure the outcome of giving a book, but the objectives behind the project are to spread kindness, and happiness, and to hopefully make a contribution, however small and immeasurable, to improving literacy rates.”

The scheme, which has been launched for the first time this year, will become a permanent fixture from next year. Lord Blunkett will become their patron if they reach their stretch target.

Local author Beverley Ward and Sheffield-based charity Baby Basics were selected as independent auditors for the monetary donations.

Book donations are being collected across Sheffield libraries and monetary donations through their Crowdfunder page.