Blog from Georgina Atwell, founder of Toppsta.
When I first started Toppsta, in 2014, it was really important to me that Toppsta did two things. Firstly, that we connected children who loved books so that they could share their recommendations with each other. But secondly, I wanted to reach beyond these bookworms to help children who were perhaps less 'bookish', mainly because they had had less access to books through childhood. Though we still have a lot of work to do, I am hugely proud that we are making progress with both goals.
Though we have a lot of amazing bookworms in our community, and rely on them to share the books they have read, we also have a lot of people who don't have many books at home. Sometimes the book they win in a giveaway is the very first book they have ever owned. For those of us who have been lucky enough to grow up surrounded by books, that's a very alien concept but it's clear to me, after chatting with many of our reviewers, that they engage with Toppsta because they no longer have a local bookshop, or their community library has shut down or the school library has a small collection of very old, unappealing books. A poor school library is a particularly frequent complaint, which is just tragic. When school libraries no longer have a dedicated librarian, have no money to buy new books and where there is no time allocated to reading in the school day, the danger is that kids are put off reading, sometimes permanently. I have heard enough stories to know that this isn't the case everywhere, but sadly it is increasingly common and parents, teachers and librarians are doing an amazing job, despite dwindling budget and resources.
So with every giveaway we run, we ask publishers to allocate an extra copy to send to a charity who help get children's books to people who really need them.
I'm delighted to announce that our new partner is Give a Book, (charity reg 1149664), which started in 2011 with the sole aim of giving books where they will be of particular benefit. Current projects and recipients include; school breakfast book clubs, Prison Reading Groups, Reading Ahead Challenge, Mother & Baby Units, Books in the Nick, Prison Family Days, Doorstep Library, First Story, Maggie's Centres, Safe Ground, Mental Health Unit book club and various literacy projects.
Their core belief is that to pass on a good read -- to give someone a book-- is a transaction of worth. They provide practical solutions to help disadvantaged people in local areas by working with the local community and partnering with other organisations to provide books to encourage an enjoyment of reading. Their main areas of work are in prisons and with children & young people throughout the UK. And they provide books, book bags, pencils and notebooks to various projects benefitting adults and children.
They are a small charity but work in partnership and collaboration with other charities and groups in order to stretch their reach and make a lasting difference to people’s lives. We are delighted to be working with Give a Book and are very grateful to our publishers who agree to provide an extra copy.
Adeela Khan, Give a Book says, "We look forward to working with Toppsta who are a great organisation promoting reading and offering recommendations and reviews. We would love to receive the book giveaways and hope to use them in our school book clubs where we provide books for those who often have little access to books and/or reading at home."
For publishers, we just ask that you continue to tick the box in the form, which says you will donate an extra copy and we will do the rest!