Second hand books finding a second life with whānau in Ōamaru

It can be hard to make sure tamariki aren’t glued to their devices all day. On top of this, for some families it can be a challenge to find money for new books and time to read stories.

The ‘Laps not Apps’ initiative is a collaboration between SKIP Waitaki, Anglican Family Care and Ōamaru Kindergarten Association. The aim of the initiative is to promote literacy and positive parent attachment through reading by increasing the number of books in homes with pre-school aged children.

Photo credit: Otago Daily Times/Rebecca Ryan

Putting the call out

It all started with a call out to the Ōamaru community, asking for donations of second-hand books looking for a second life. The team were expecting to receive a couple of hundred books, but ended up receiving over 2,000 excellent quality books.

“We just wanted a few books to give out to families who didn’t have them and now it has spread so much further,” says Family Start worker Sue Dundass.

Families in the community who had already identified a need of books were the first to receive a package. The rest of the books were placed around town for families to pick them up. Books were placed in Plunket rooms, the probation office, Work and Income, dental clinics and local cafes.

Book boxes a success

The book boxes were a real hit. Children can take a book and read it with their parents while they are there, or they can take the book home with them. The books are owned by the community for everyone to enjoy.

After a few book boxes were set up, businesses started asking for them.

“We have really stressed the importance of children being exposed to purposeful language in the first few years to increase the education outcomes for them later in life. People have really resonated with that idea,” explains Sue.

Positive changes seen in whānau

Sue has seen first hand the positive impact of the initiative with some of the families she works with. One family that received a book package noticed their 15-month-old has fallen in love with books. He now engages with the pictures and will often point at a book to get adults to read to him.

The Laps not apps programme was made possible with support from the SKIP Local Initiative Fund. If you have a great idea to make positive change for whānau in your community, get in touch with us.