A new book tackling children's reaction to natural disasters and the impact on communities will be launched on 8 November 2012, at a special London event organised by disaster relief charity ShelterBox and The Reading Agency, the independent charity working to inspire more people to read more, to mark one year of successful partnership working.
The Day The Sea Changed tells the story of a community hit by a tsunami and the devastating impact it has on them, but how ultimately they come together to rebuild their lives. Aimed at primary school age children, it has been illustrated by children who won a competition led by ShelterBox and renowned author and illustrator Michael Foreman, who also provided an illustration for the book. It ends with a message of hope.
At the launch event, hosted by The Reading Agency at London's Free Word Centre, young illustrators from schools across the UK and from the Falklands will be presented with certificates, and prizes donated by Hope Education, for their winning entries used in The Day The Sea Changed.
Michael Foreman will also lead a workshop sharing his passion for creating books. He says: "We all know how important it is to have shelter, somewhere you can call home. The Day the Sea Changed is a story inspired by those affected by the tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011 and it helps children to understand how ordinary people can pull together and help each other in times of disaster."
The illustration competition was jointly promoted by Shelterbox, and Chatterbooks, the national network of reading groups for children run by The Reading Agency. It challenged teachers and children to explore a story about flooding and bring it to life with their pictures, giving them a unique opportunity to understand how a disaster like this might affect families and communities involved. Chatterbooks promoted the competition to libraries and library-supported children's reading groups, like winning entrants the Bradford Libraries' Home Educated Reading Group, which has monthly sessions at Bradford Central Library, West Yorkshire.
Christinea Donnelly, development officer for young people, says: "This competition offered a unique opportunity to work on as a group on an emotive subject area, at a level to suit all the different ages, to learn new things together and to develop these new ideas through illustration. The children shared their illustrations with each other having selected a piece of text. They also read some of the suggested books for inspiration."
Another competition winner Kieran Earl, nine, from Flixton Junior School in Manchester, said: "Learning about what causes a tsunami then having the chance to illustrate the book that was going to help people in disaster areas was a brilliant idea."
Journalists and photographers are invited to attend the launch event - for full event details, please see 'Notes to editors' below. Photographs will also be available upon request afterwards. Copies of The Day The Sea Changed will be available from the ShelterBox shop online priced at £4 and images of the winning children's illustrations may be viewed and downloaded here.
This special event marks a successful year of partnership working between ShelterBox's Young ShelterBox project, which provides teachers and youth group leaders with the resources they need to explore the difficult and challenging subject of world disasters, and Chatterbooks. Together, they've produced a resources pack for schools participating in the competition, including a further reading list to inspire children's entries, and Chatterbooks is also producing an reading group activity 'Chatterpack' for its reading groups, based on the new book.
Miranda McKearney, director of The Reading Agency, said: "We're delighted that this competition marks one year of successful partnership working with Shelterbox. Both Shelterbox and The Reading Agency work to inspire and empower children's exploration and learning through reading, discussion and active participation. The Chatterbooks network of children's reading groups is ever-growing, enabling more and more children to make connections, understand better the world and the impact of phenomena such as natural disasters, and to simply have fun reading. Now more than ever, given recent findings on literacy rates in the UK, that feels like a vital shared mission, and we hope even more schools will become Chatterbooks schools."
Emma Nicholls, Young ShelterBox project manager says: "The whole project was based around the Japanese tsunami. We wanted to enable children to explore this emotive subject and to understand the impact of disasters on people. We wanted young people to think outside of their own environment and to think globally, by trying to put themselves in the shoes of those people affected by disaster."
Deborah Hyde, Oasis Media
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Notes to editors
- Launch event details: 3 November 2011, 1345 - 1515. Venue Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road, London, EC1R 3GA.
- The Reading Agency is an independent charity working to inspire more people to read more. It is funded by the Arts Council, and has a formal partnership with public library services.
- ShelterBox is an international disaster relief charity that delivers emergency shelter, warmth and dignity to people affected by disaster worldwide.
- The Day The Sea Changed children's illustration competition: There were 20 winners from ten different schools across the UK. This is the third in what will be a series of six Shelterbox disaster books, all stimulated by the imagination of children.
- Young ShelterBox engages young people in the UK with ShelterBox's disaster relief work, providing positive avenues of response and aiming to empower children as global citizens with the knowledge that their actions can make a difference.
- Chatterbooks is a reading group programme for children aged four to twelve, and encourages a love and enjoyment of reading. Chatterbooks groups run in libraries and schools, or other places where children do fun and creative activities. Libraries and schools also use Chatterbooks to help meet statutory targets and standards.