Story Starters is launched in London with the help of Sophy Henn and a virtual Dolly Parton 6th October 2017 Local literacy charity Beanstalk held a launch event today for their new programme, Story Starters, with a video from Dolly Parton calling for volunteers. Story Starters helps children aged 3-5 within nurseries and pre-schools to develop their language skills in order to become ready to read. Many people, including children’s author, Sophy Henn, attended Coram to celebrate this new programme being available in Hackney, Wandsworth, Barnet and Islington. Beanstalk is now looking for volunteers to become Story Starters in pre-schools and nurseries in areas across London. Story Starters is a new collaborative project between children’s literacy charity Beanstalk, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and LuCid (University of Liverpool) which aims to give children the support they need to develop their language and reading skills. Research has shown that children who benefit from high-quality support in their early years start school on average three months ahead in their literacy and language skills, compared with children who don’t. Story Starter volunteers will visit children twice a week and support three children for 20 minutes each. The sessions are fun, interactive and hugely beneficial to the children receiving extra support. The child and volunteer will have access to a box full of books as well as an additional book every month delivered directly to them. Ginny Lunn, CEO of Beanstalk, says “Beanstalk is excited to be working with local nurseries on our new programme Story Starters. We know how important it is for children in the early years of their education to get support with their language development, as this enables them to start primary school ready to read and able to thrive throughout their education. We need volunteers to come forward now so they can be trained to start supporting children as soon as possible.” Find out more about becoming a Story Starter volunteer: You can find out more about becoming a Story Starter by visiting www.storystarters.org.uk, or calling Beanstalk on 0845 450 0301. Alternatively email [email protected]. About the Story Starters partners Beanstalk (www.beanstalkcharity.org.uk) is a national children’s literacy charity that will recruit, train, and support Story Starter volunteers. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (http://uk.imaginationlibrary.com/) will provide every Story Starter child with high-quality, professionally-selected, age-appropriate books. These books will be sent directly to both the early years setting and the home of each Story Starter child, ensuring that they can enjoy the magic of stories at home as well as when they are with their Story Starter. LuCiD (www.lucid.ac.uk) is a project based at the University of Liverpool to help transform our understanding of how children learn through language and communication. They will be carrying out the Randomised Control Trial (RCT) on the intervention and will be reporting findings at the end of the two year period of project delivery.