Story StartersLife is better when everyone can read well and express themselves with confidence. Story Starters is a new programme that gives children aged three to five years old the language and communication skills they need to start school ready to learn and all set to reach for the stars. Story Starters was made possible by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. We received £1 million from the People’s Postcode Lottery Dream Fund to deliver Story Starters from January 2017 through to March 2019. Due to it's success the programme continues to be delivered to settings across England. About Story Starters Become a Story Starter Become a Story Starter setting Supporters News Blogs #WinterReads - book suggestions for this winter season Winter is upon us and Christmas is right around the corner. Christmas shopping and preparations can be stressful for many and it’s important to remember what the festive season is all about; enjoying peaceful and memorable moments with family and friends. We at Beanstalk all agree that the best way to find peace and quiet in a busy time is to snuggle up in a warm space with the ultimate winter read. That’s why we have gathered this list of our favorite winter reads, to inspire you to do the same. A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver: Recommended by Jennifer, Fundraising Team The festive season can be so chaotic that often, it’s difficult to find sufficient time to sit down and sink into a novel. I think keeping a book of poetry on the nightstand is essential to ensure you always have something to dip in and out of when you can. American poet, Mary Oliver, writes with calculation and yet, with extreme eloquence. With a true love of nature, Oliver weaves images of mountains, trees, lakes and seas into poems of love, friendship and family. Oliver turns the misty dark mornings of December into wonders of nature where threatening grey clouds are transformed into something mysterious and magical. She reminds us to pay attention to the details of nature; The sea can do craziness, it can do smooth, it can lie down like silk breathing or toss havoc shoreward; it can give gifts or withhold all; it can rise, ebb, froth like an incoming frenzy of fountains, or it can sweet-talk entirely. As I can too, and so, no doubt, can you, and you. Her voice is the perfect companion for icy mornings and evenings as you bury yourself underneath the duvet and wait for snow. The Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman: Recommended by Sarah, Marketing Team This is technically a teen read but like so many other great teen reads, it’s also suitable for adults. I first read this book in a very rainy and mild December and the book allowed me to be transported to a world of snowy alpines, winter creatures and lots of adventures. The story follows Lyra who, guided by her demon, Pantalaimon, (don’t worry, he’s very friendly!) goes against the ruling powers to save her uncle and get back her friend, Roger, who has been kidnapped. Lyra travels take her from Jordan College, Oxford to the arctic and allow her to encounter many characters who both help and hinder her. I’m not a fan of fantasy novels and this books is set in an alternative world, but it’s just the right mix of fantasy and a world we can relate to that makes it such an enjoyable read. Life of Pi by Yann Martel: Recommended by Hannah, Fundraising Team You’ve probably seen the film. If you haven’t seen the film, you’ve certainly seen the poster of a boy in a boat with a tiger. I’m a firm believer that books are (almost) always better than the film and this novel from Yann Martel is no exception. Escape the dreary wintery nights with this captivating story of survival, told from the interesting perspective of an author interviewing the protagonist of the tale. What functions on the surface as an adventure story about a young boy’s survival in a boat with a tiger, quickly reveals depth through Pi’s symbolic recount of his story and at a higher level through the novel’s overarching commentary on religion, spirituality and the last century. All written beautifully, with rich descriptions of India, zoological hierarchy and epic tales of 227 days at sea. This book will carry you on a journey to India, across the Pacific Ocean, landing in Mexico and Canada, subtly weaving in questions of spirituality and morality along the way. The Snowman by Jo Nesboe: Recommended by Henriette, Marketing Team I would recommend The Snowman by Jo Nesboe to read this winter, for those fearless souls out there! This book is the seventh book in his series. I have read almost all of them, but The Snowman is by far the most exciting one to read. I think the colder days and darker evenings sets the perfect mood to delve into this book. Be prepared, you will struggle to put this book down once you’ve started reading. The story takes place in Norway and we follow the life of police detective, Harry Hole. When the first snow of the year falls, Harry receives an anonymous letter signed “The Snowman”, which turns out to be the beginning of a complicated murder case. A woman has disappeared and is found dead with a snowman placed beside her. As Harry starts investigating the case, he soon discovers that the case has similarities with other murder cases that also happened when the first snow falls all the way back to the 1980, and Harry finds himself tracing a serial killer with cruel intentions. And something to read with the kids...! First Snow by Kim Lewis: Recommended by Alison, Story Starter volunteer Daddy is ill, so Mummy and Sara set off to tend the sheep on their remote Northumberland farm. Kim Lewis, author and illustrator, captures an intimate portrait of the family set against the beautiful, ever changing, countryside. The tension mounts as young Sara discovers she has lost her Teddy, and it’s beginning to snow. Thanks to their trust sheepdog the story has a happy ending and we can all relax in the warmth and security of the farmhouse! I first started reading this story to my own children over 20 years ago. Since then it has become a favourite with many more children, and I’m sure it’s one to treasure for generations to come. It's very gentle and explores a different type of family life to that around here, and it includes the first snow of the season!