Storytime Foundation: Helping parents engage with their children through reading


The Storytime Foundation has worked with 50,000 Kiwi families and delivered more than 200,000 books to New Zealand homes since it established its flagship programme, Books for Babies, in 1997.

Books for Babies (pictured here) is based on the principle that reading to children is one of the most important things you can do to strengthen the bond between parent and child. Now Storytime is using this same principle to underpin a new programme in New Zealand prisons.

Taonga mō ngā Tamariki has been developed to help parents in prison understand the importance of retaining bonds with their children and to provide practical ways to support their relationship with their children. A trained facilitator works with participants on how reading with children and enjoying literacy and numeracy activities together can support family bonding. Participants can also choose books for their children and create their own games.

“It’s all about improving the attachment between parent and child,” says Storytime Foundation Chief Executive Tony Culliney.
The programme is currently running at three prisons in the northern region. At Northern Regional Corrections Facility, prisoners also have the opportunity to practice their new skills at child-centric weekend visits – with very positive results.

“The participants say it is as close to normal family time that they have while in prison, and they strongly believe it is improving their relationship with their children.”

Tony says British research has found that reading to and engaging in literacy education with their children can help prisoners break the cycle of reoffending. He hopes the same will happen here as the programme expands.

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