Story sacks

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About story sacks

Story sacks are a popular, non-threatening way of encouraging parents and carers to start sharing stories with their children, especially those parents with little positive experience of books. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many adults, after they have been involved in a story sacks project, are motivated to take up opportunities for further study and so improve their own skills.

A story sack is a large cloth bag containing a children's book with supporting materials to stimulate reading activities and make shared reading a memorable and enjoyable experience. The sack contains soft toys of the book's main characters, and props and scenery that parents and other adults can use with children to bring a book to life, even if the adult's reading skills are limited. The sack might include a non-fiction book on the same theme, an audio-tape of the story, a language-based game and a short guide containing questions to ask, words to consider and other ways to extend the reading activity.

A workshop for parents about how to share story sacks with their children provides guidance on storytelling and ideas for making best use of the contents of the sack. At the end of one training session a mother explained that, though she could barely read, she now felt that she could really do it - she could tell a story.

The Basic Skills Agency ran a Storysacks National Support Project, and the project is now run on a freelance basis by Neil Griffiths, who first conceived the idea. The project has now spread to almost every local authority.

Who uses story sacks?

Story sacks are mainly used by schools, and are a way of getting the whole community involved in the life of a school. Groups as diverse as the Women's Institute, businesses and inmates of local prisons, as well as parents themselves, have all been involved in making sacks for schools. Story sacks are increasingly used by other groups such as Sure Start, public libraries, playgroups, health visitors, speech therapists, social workers, children's hospitals, prisons, family centres and adult learners. Many local authorities have built story sacks-making activities into accredited courses for adults, some of whom go on to further adult education groups, become reading volunteers, in some cases, leading to jobs and training. Links

   * Articles from Literacy Today on story sacks
   * Reading Is Fundamental, UK storytellers list
   * Contact for story sacks to buy: Neil Griffiths, Corner to Learn Ltd, Willow Cottage, 26 Purton Stoke, Swindon, SN5 4JF Tel/Fax: 01793 421168 Mobile: 07976 574627
   * Storysack Ltd: a company offering commercially produced story sacks for sale, as well as tips on how to use the sacks. Visit www.story

Read more

For more on the Harlow Basic Skills Project visit

Also read Hampshire Gypsy Heritage project Story baskets case study and Story sacks, Harlow Basic Skills Project

Story sacks in Southampton

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