THE Lowry Theatre has launched a year-long literacy project which allows young parents and children from Salford to create their own storybooks.
They will collaborate with professional writers and illustrators to produce the stories that will be distributed to community libraries and Sure Start centres across the city and nationwide.
Free copies of the children’s books will be issued to targeted groups in Salford before their release on general sale in the autumn.
The initiative, starting this week, will be funded by the £25,000 raised through their annual Christmas Appeal.
Audience donations, merchandise sales and staff fundraising contributed to the theatre’s highest Appeal total, a £4,000 increase on last year.
Project co-ordinator Lynsey O’Sullivan said the generosity of the public has been ‘totally overwhelming’.
She added: “We always try to raise something similar to the year before but we weren’t expecting to surpass it so that was great news.”
The decision to involve parents and their children in the scheme was made in partnership with Salford Council and consultations with young people in the local community.
Miss O’Sullivan thought the project would be a ‘brilliant opportunity’ for parents who are ‘under-confident’ with the concept of reading to explore the world of books with their children.
“We aim to use theatre, drama, storytelling, visual arts and music as a way to bring books to life and give parents the tools so they can enjoy reading with their children.
“The children are only aged zero to five so it’s about the parents contributing as well.
“Through interactive storytelling experiences, they will devise their own story and write, illustrate and publish that then the book will be on sale by the end of the year,” she said.
Although plans are still unconfirmed, the Lowry has held discussions with War Horse author Michael Morpurgo, who is ‘very excited’ to endorse the scheme, as well as other writers and illustrators.
The theatre company are also working with Manchester Literacy Book Festival, aimed for children, which takes place in August 2014.
The project has seen widespread interest so far with between 10 and 20 families attending each of the 10 Sure Start centres in Salford every week.
Young parents interested in getting involved in the project should contact 0161 876 2039 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Adam Higgins and Carlie Foster
@Higgins_Adam95 and @carliefosterrx