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Students share love of reading to asylum-seeker children

The University of Portsmouth has been helping children from asylum-seeking families to enjoy books and reading.

BA (Hons) Illustration staff and students developed a reading and drawing project to invite families from the Portsmouth City of Sanctuary (PCoS) asylum seeker community into the University Library.

Working with Anita David from PCoS, children and their families with little access to books and who did not have English as a first language, were able to enjoy books from the Library’s Near and Far World Book (NFWB) collection, which are authored from across the world and translated into English.

The families were linked up with students who read to and listened to them reading. The students also mentored older family members to take on the responsibility to read to, with and listen to younger children, while also developing their own language skills. Further activities included drawing the characters from the stories with the children and playing games based on the books.

10-year-old Karina from Afghanistan, said:

“I loved the books at the library, I met so many nice people there. Now I like to read every day.”

Ash and Hirina, both 16 year old Action Asylum volunteers, also buddied up with the students in the project. They said:

“It was a really amazing experience, to volunteer with university students and to visit the university library.”

Following a pilot project from the previous year, Illustration students led the project that formed part of their course studies. Level six students also created picture books for the young readers as part of their final-year projects.

The NFWB collection and reading project is an example of how students, staff and individual departments are working with the University Library to develop community projects. It has also contributed to the University Library’s successful application for Customer Service Excellence Accreditation.

The NFWB collection continues to grow and is available to a wide range of students, staff and the wider community.