The theme of our first reading challenge is ‘Home’.
We make our challenge relevant to our readers by having a theme for the books we select. Young people tell us that they are concerned about the same big issues that adults are, so our themes are timely and significant ones.
What do we mean when we talk about ‘Home’?
Home brings to mind housing and homelessness but also belonging, identity, migration and refugees, amongst other issues. Our activities provide an opportunity to consider these themes in a gentle, hopeful and constructive way.
Are these issues relevant to children?
Housing and homelessness. Both the evidence from children themselves, and the sheer numbers of children experiencing this issue directly, demonstrate the relevance of this theme. Our readers may be directly affected or know other children who are. They may have heard the issues discussed by older people at home or in the media, yet they may not have have spoken with anyone about it.
Shelter estimates↑ that 1.6m children in Britain live in housing that is overcrowded, temporary or run-down. In cities, many children will have noticed people who are sleeping rough. A lot of children are affected by this issue and may not have a means of making sense of it.
‘Home’ also enables us to consider migration, identity and refuge. Again, these concepts may be lived experience for many of our readers, rather than abstract issues. Given the current refugee situation in Europe and the international nature of many populations and families in the UK, the ideas of ‘what and where is home?’ are being worked through on a daily basis.
Children often feel very strongly about justice, fairness and the wellbeing of others and can be confused and alarmed when they see aspects of the world which do not reflect this. An opportunity to gently reflect, often at some remove, on stories of third parties who are experiencing these issues, can be timely and constructive.
Our reading list will reflect all the above aspects of ‘Home’.