Jump into your PJs with BookTrust for new nationwide fundraising campaign

BookTrust, the UK’s largest children’s reading charity, today announces the launch of its new nationwide mass participation fundraising campaign, Pyjamarama. The campaign aims to get children across the country in their pyjamas to raise funds for the reading charity.  

BookTrust want children across the nation to ditch their normal clothes and rock their pyjamas for the day and have enlisted the help of some of the nation’s best loved book characters including Matilda, Horrid Henry, Tracy Beaker and Ben and Holly (*see notes to editors for more details). On Friday 7th June, everyone is encouraged to put on their PJs and donate £1 to BookTrust so that no child misses out on the magic of the bedtime story. To sign up for your free Pyjamarama fundraising pack visit booktrust.org.uk/Pyjamarama.

All monies raised will go towards funding BookTrust’s work in supporting more families. For just £25, BookTrust could provide 15 pre-school children living in women’s refuge centres with their own book pack. (*see notes to editors for more details). Children who don’t have access to books and stories in the early years start school a year behind their peers, a gap that widens as they get older.

Diana Gerald, CEO, BookTrust said: “We want to make sure that no child misses out on the life changing benefits of a bedtime story. We hope that children across the country will join their favourite characters in wearing pyjamas for the day and bring in £1 so that we can reach families who so desperately need our support. Wearing pyjamas all day is a wonderful way to show support for reading, and importantly, it’s incredibly easy for school, nurseries, children and busy parents!”

Schools, nurseries and individuals can sign up for fundraising packs by visiting booktrust.org.uk/pyjamarama

Local history shapes our identity at Guildford Museums' new exhibition

A Woolly Mammoth’s tooth, Roman coins and tales of Guildford Borough’s famous and not so famous (yet!) figures – these are just some of the untold stories and rich local history being celebrated at a free exhibition at Guildford Museum until 23 March.

The exhibition is the result of the Museum’s Our History, Our Identity project – an exploration of the borough’s rural history and identity.

Cllr Nikki Nelson-Smith, Lead Councillor for Skills, Arts and Tourism says: 

“The project has been a great success. Listening to local communities’ stories and discussing historical objects has really helped us to understand what the area and villages were like hundreds of years ago. Guildford Museum deserves great credit for capturing the unique stories, which explain our area and how it has developed into a place of character and history. “

Staff and volunteers from the Museum attended events around the borough hosted by partner organisations last year. These were the Wanborough Barn Open Day in August, Ripley Farmers Market, Normandy Village Fete, Ash Museum Heritage Open Day, Commoners’ Day at Effingham Common, Tuesday Café at West Clandon Royal British Legion and Tongham Autumn Fair. 

The project followed on from the ‘Your Stories, Your Museum’ project, where Guildford Museum collaborated with the local community to find Guildford stories.

Cllr Nelson-Smith adds: “Working with local communities for the ‘Our History Our Identity’ project was really important to discover the history of our borough. Seeing all the different historical objects in our area felt like a journey through our history. One of the most fascinating objects discovered was the Woolly Mammoth’s tooth, found in Guildford. This captures a great image of what our borough looked like thousands of years ago.” 

The Museum is currently displaying all the objects that travelled the borough until 23 March. Alongside the exhibition, there is also a drawing challenge, where visitors can have a go at drawing a portrait of themselves in three minutes using one continuous unbroken line.

Young visitors will be able to handle the Mammoth tooth found in Guildford and make their own paper Woolly Mammoth on Saturday 16 March from 11am until 1pm at the museum. Event is free. Suitable for children 4+.

Come to Guildford Museum to see and learn about the interesting objects found in our borough. For more information, please visit https://www.guildford.gov.uk/OHOIexhibitionor phone 01483 444751.

Book up now for Easter holidays activities at The Lightbox

The Lightbox is all set for a cracking Easter Holiday this year, with a variety of workshops for all ages. Drop-in and pre-bookable sessions are available to get creative and crafty and keep the children entertained throughout the season.

The whole family can enjoy free drop-in workshops in the Education Studio, running from 1.30pm – 4.00pm on selected dates. Spring is in full bloom so come and create a beautiful hand-shaped bouquet from paper, card and recycled materials in Handy Flowers (Wednesday 10 April), or make your own Easter surprises using clothes pegs and card in Easter Peg Animals (Friday 12 April) using recycled materials. With bunnies on the brain, hop along to Easter Bunny Cups (Wednesday 17 April) to craft your very own Easter egg holders. All workshops are suitable for children aged 4+ but all ages are welcome.

For those who like to plan ahead, The Lightbox also runs a variety of bookable workshops for children and young people. Use collage and paint to create a unique photomontage using found imagery from magazines, inspired by the photobooks in the exhibition, ‘Women in Photography: A History of British Trailblazers’, inPhotomontage (Tuesday 9 April, for 5-8 year olds). Be inspired to create a theatrical tunnel book by layering images to form a three-dimensional scene to tell a story, in Tunnel Book (Thursday 11 April, 8-12 year olds). Budding gardeners will create a Secret Garden in a Jar (Tuesday 16 April, 5-8 year olds) using modelling materials so that it can survive the spring without need of watering. Bookable workshops include all materials, and are £8 per child/young person. Any accompanying adult goes free.

Alongsides the jam-packed workshop schedule, an exciting assortment of exhibitions will be on display, including ‘Women in Photography: A History of British Trailblazers’ in the Main Gallery. The blockbuster exhibition will, for the first time, present an in-depth historical survey showcasing the achievements of female photographers working in Britain from the mid-nineteenth to 21st century. Round up your trip to The Lightbox in the family friendly Seasons café, with a varied menu including burgers, salads, risottos, and brunches; all made with fresh, local, seasonal ingredients.

Free entry, entrance to Main and Upper Gallery exhibitions only with a £7.50 Annual Pass or £5.00 Day Pass. Under 18s free. 

For more info http://www.thelightbox.org.uk

Are nerves causing parents to close the book on story time?

Stage fright may be causing parents to close the book on story time, according to a survey conducted by Chessington World of Adventures Resort of 2,000 parents and children across the country, with over a third of parents (36%) admitting to feeling nervous or self-conscious about reading stories to their children.

Widely acknowledged as an essential part of a child’s daily routine, yet story time is not on the agenda for one in seven (14%).

In response to these findings, Chessington will introduce Story School, a storytelling masterclass hosted by professional storyteller, Kevin Graal, who will guide parents on the most effective story time techniques.

“You don’t need to be a brilliant reader or storyteller to read a children’s book well or tell a story,” says Kevin. He adds: “You just need to be playful and remember how much children love and need storytelling. Then you can relax and really enjoy the experience of sharing stories with your children!” 

Chessington’s research also found over half of children (55%) find story time more exciting when parents get into character, using different voices and even costumes. As part of Chessington’s Story School initiative, Kevin will teach parents simple skills to help them feel confident when reading and find their voice to bring stories to life to inspire their children’s imagination.

A Theme Park, like Chessington, might not normally be a leading voice in the world of children’s literacy. However, as the Surrey Resort brings to life yet another children’s book this year, author Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler’s Room on the Broom, it wanted to understand the current state of play of story time in the UK, fully aware of the importance of literacy for its young guests.     

Chessington World of Adventures Resort, said: “It’s saddening to hear these statistics, especially as research has shown children who are read a bedtime story from their parents as infants perform better in maths and English at the age of 16 than their peers who did not*.  

“We hope Story School will give parents helpful tips that they can use at home, so story time becomes a fun and exciting part of their family’s everyday routine.”

With nearly half of children (47%) saying they favour Mum to read to them over any other family member, Chessington will welcome Binky Felstead to its Story School later this month.

Opening on Sunday March 10, Room on the Broom – A Magical Journey is the second children’s book Chessington has brought to life by author Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler, following in the footsteps of the Resort’s Gruffalo River Ride Adventure.

For more information, visit Chessington.com/2019.

The Belfry Shopping Centre, Redhill, supports local children’s writing competition

Could your child be the next J K Rowling or David Walliams? Children between 10 and 14 years old are in with a chance to win great prizes courtesy of The Belfry Shopping Centre which has teamed up again with Redhill’s The Warwick School to kick off this year’s Reigate and Banstead Writes Short Story Competition.

Great prizes to be won include a Kindle Paperwhite for the winner with a Basic Kindle for the runner-up and a £30 voucher from Waterstones at the Belfry for the third-placed winner.

Belfry Manager, Andy Nash, said, “We’re delighted to support this fantastic competition for young novelists of the future! This competition gives children the opportunity to show off their writing skills and always attracts outstanding entries. It’s great to read the fascinating stories set in locations around Redhill, Reigate, Merstham, Horley and the immediate surrounding area. Good luck to everyone who enters.”

This popular annual competition attracted hundreds of entries last year from children in the local community. The idea is simple, write a fictional story of not more than 1,000 words set within the borough of Reigate and Banstead.

So it’s time for all talented young writers out there to get their creative hats on and let their imaginations run wild! Have an army of ducks taken over Priory Park? Has a time portal opened in Reigate Castle Grounds? Are secret spaceships being built at Redhill Aerodrome? Did a picnic turn into a comic adventure on Banstead Common?

Closing date is 28 February 2019. Children can hand their stories into their school with an entry form attached or can send them to Kay Hymas, R&B Writes, The Warwick School, Noke Drive, Redhill, Surrey, RH1 4AD.

The judges will make their decision by April 2019.The winners will be notified and prizes handed out at a special prize-giving ceremony.

For the entry form and more information about the competition, visit