A CHARITY has provided almost 15,000 books to children in two of the most deprived areas of Bradford in the past year.

Canterbury Imagine was set up in 2012 by Jan Winter, and provides free books for children on the Canterbury estate from when they are born to their fifth birthday.

It proved so popular a similar scheme was later set up in the Midland Road area of Manningham.

A newly released impact report into the charity has found that 1,285 children across both schemes are currently receiving a book every month.

In the last 12 months 10,820 books have arrived directly into the homes of under-fives in the Canterbury area and 3,850 books have arrived in homes in the Midland Road area, making for a total of 14,670 books in one year.

This year marks the fifth year of Canterbury Imagine’s work, so children who were registered as babies at the start of the scheme will have their fifth birthday this year, having benefitted from receiving books all their lives.

The charity was inspired by the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, which started in 1996 and provided free books to every child in Sevier County, Tennessee, where she grew up.

In a survey of parents who had taken part, the majority said they read with their children more often since signing up to the scheme.

The questionnaire from 58 parents of children in the Canterbury area found 53 agreed with the statement: “The books we receive are of good quality.”

Headteacher of Midland Road Nursery School Sharon Hogan said: “The significance of children receiving a high quality story book at home each month cannot be underestimated. It is probably the single most cost-effective strategy to support a sustainable literate home learning environment I have come across.”

Rahima Ali, a parental involvement co-ordinator and family and community worker at Midland Road, said: “Children look forward to their books. They will ask their parents for books whenever the post comes.

“Parents said Imagination Library books are allowing their children to develop speech and language, develop love for the books and taking care of the books. It is also allowing some of them to develop concentration span.”

Sadaf Raqeeb, mum of a four-year-old in the Canterbury scheme, said: “I’m so thankful. I don’t know where to go to buy books. I receive the £1 voucher [for World Book day] but I don’t know where to go with it.

“To receive a book at home, it’s so big for me. I can’t afford lots of books.

“We never get bored. Every month they come and every month it’s a surprise.”