Empower one thousand kids to read, write and draw!

by Kitty Harrison in Kington, Herefordshire, United Kingdom

We did it
On 3rd December 2021 we successfully raised £6,225 with 126 supporters in 28 days

Help me donate one thousand books to children who need them most and empower them to learn, create and communicate to their full potential

by Kitty Harrison in Kington, Herefordshire, United Kingdom

Watch out, we're on a mission... 

Hello world! My name's Kristen "Kitty" Harrison and I'm a publisher, author and education advocate. I'm committed to helping children reach their creative potential which is why I founded The Curved House, an indie publishing house that explores the intersections between books, art and education. 

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Every child has the capacity to learn, create and communicate, but some kids face big barriers that can limit their progress. As grown-ups, it's our responsibility to recognise those barriers and either remove them, or build bridges for children to overcome them themselves. 

Much of my work is dedicated to breaking down barriers to learning, especially literacy learning, and I do this through the power of creativity. Together with a brilliant team of authors and illustrators, I've developed a series of picture books that have stories but no pictures, so kids illustrate their very own book. By giving children ownership over their books, and making them part of the creative process, their own ideas and ingenuity become the bridge to important literacy milestones.

Let's empower a thousand children

To have a real impact, these books need to reach the kids who need them most. That's where you come in. With your support, I aim to gift a thousand books to children in the UK and Ireland. These will be distributed in two ways: 

  • Working with the brilliant team at Children's Books Ireland, hardback copies of our latest series will be distributed to Irish Traveller communities, families in Direct Provision (Ireland's asylum-seeker accommodation) and children experiencing homelessness.
  • Working directly with my existing school network across the UK, copies of the paperback school edition will be sent to schools in areas of socio-economic deprivation or with high numbers of pupils from low-income families

About the Books

To support this project you can make a straight-up donation or your can choose to get one of our latest books from our Illustrate This Book series. When you get a copy, so does Children's Books Ireland*, who will distribute it to a child who needs it. 

*If we reach more than 70% funding by 15th November I will send 350 books to Children's Books Ireland before the campaign closes, enabling them to send books to kids who need them before Christmas. Help me achieve this goal by backing the project early and telling all your friends!

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Four awesome books in the series:

  • My Prehistoric Pet - Written by Lucie Stevens and featuring illustrator Rupert Meats
  • One Brave Astronaut - Written by Kitty Harrison and featuring illustrator Ben Hawkes
  • Monster Small, Monster Big - Written by Keith Tilbury and featuring illustrator Stephanie Belbin 
  • The Unicorn Party - Written by Kitty Harrison and featuring illustrator Cristina Martín

Each book is packed with creative, personalised activities (and stickers!):

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And contains tips and prompts from four brilliant illustrators:

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Here's one of our books (The Unicorn Party) before a kid got hold of it... 

1635858694_crowdfunder_reward_images.pngAnd here it is after, completed by Betty, aged 6 (just)!
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I'm sure you'll agree that the books are greatly improved by the creative work of budding young artists!

Books for Schools 

You can also support this campaign by sponsoring a class or a school. They will receive the paperback school editions, first published in 2013 to make this concept accessible to educators with limited resource budgets. These books offer creative in-road to literacy that engages all pupils. We have run workshops with the books in schools, at festivals, in libraries and in museums and no matter the setting, one thing is always the same: we always see a huge burst of pride when children find out they will be the illustrators. That kind of ownership encourages them to connect deeply and meaningfully with the task of finishing their books. 

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 Illustrator Ben Hawkes working with kids in schools and local libraries

children illustrating their own books and poetry pages

Creative kids hard at work at Southbank's Imagine Festival

What are the barriers to literacy?

Many children struggle with reading and writing, for a range of reasons. There are visible barriers, such as a child or family not being able to afford books*. And there are also invisible barriers – like reading difficulties associated with dyslexia or ADHD, low self-esteem or low confidence around books. Sometimes a child may simply display a strong preference for hands-on, interactive or visual learning that can't be nurtured with traditional text-based reading schemes.

*A National Literacy Trust study from 2019 showed that over 380,000 children in the UK do not own a single book of their own. Contrast this against the research that shows owning books in the home directly correlates to better academic outcomes with benefits long into adulthood.  

Creative Pathways to Literacy

Our books harness the power of drawing as a pathway to literacy. Drawing allows children to build confidence, develop their visual vocabulary, practise pen skills and strengthen visual literacy as they work toward reading and writing milestones. The Illustrate This Book series, and all of my education work at The Curved House, draws on a large body of research exploring the links between drawing and literacy and, more broadly, art and education. If you're interested in discovering more, some of the academics and research that have influenced me include: 

Whether you're a teacher, parent, carer, aunty, uncle, grandparent or just a lifelong learner yourself, I hope this little list inspires you as much as it did me!  


How to support this campaign

Support this campaign by choosing a reward on the right-hand side of the page (or click the "Rewards" tab on a phone). You can choose anything from a donation, to getting and/or gifting a book, to becoming a patron. Please note that physical rewards can only be shipped to the UK, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. If you are outside these regions and would like to support us you can still chip in a friendly fiver or donate a book/books to a child or school. Thank you for your support, wherever you are!1635786973_1.png

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Our track record

The Curved House has an impressive track record when it comes to making and gifting awesome books! As part of our STEM education work we collaborated with author Lucy Hawking, the UK Space Agency, the Science and Technology Facilities Council and the Welsh Government to design, print and distribute over 120,000 free books to schools across the UK (in English and Welsh!). You can see these at discoverydiaries.org. The majority of these free books went to schools in areas of socio-economic deprivation or with high numbers of children from low-income or disadvantaged backgrounds. 

“Kristen Harrison and her colleagues have consistently delivered everything they promised and more – as the project proved more popular than expected they took on additional work in their commitment to extract as much educational value as possible.” Jeremy Curtis, Head of Education and Skills, UK Space Agency

We have direct links to schools in the UK and in Ireland we are supported by the utterly brilliant team at Children’s Books Ireland. They already run fantastic book gifting programmes and will ensure your donated books reach children who need them most. 

Timeline

  • December 5: Crowdfunder Complete!  
  • December 12: Send shipping questionnaire to backers who will receive books.
  • December 12: Print posters and postcards. 
  • December 17: Finalise distribution list for free book donations.
  • January 5th: Collate posters and postcards with books. Send donated books to Children's Books Ireland and nominated schools 
  • January 10: Finalise distribution list for backers and ship books.  

Note that there is currently a global shipping that is impacting delivery times worldwide. This has been factored in to delivery times however there is always the possibility of further shipping problems outside of my control. I will update all backers on estimated delivery times as we go. 

Feel free to ask any questions in the comments. And thank you for your support!

Rewards

This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£5 or more

High Five

Throw in a fiver to support this project and we'll send you a digital thank you along with a Little Book of Drawing Prompts (PDF) by me and the illustrators, to download and enjoy over the holiday season!

£10 or more

8 of 200 claimed

Gift a Book

Donate a book to a child who needs it! With your contribution we will donate one hardback book with stickers from our Illustrate This Book series. You will receive a personalised digital thank you and a Little Book of Drawing Prompts (PDF) by me and the illustrators.

£18 or more

5 of 150 claimed

Get a book, gift a book! (shipped to UK)

We'll send you a hardback copy of one of our new books from the Illustrate This Book series PLUS we will donate a copy to a child via Children's Books Ireland. You will also receive a digital thank you and a Little Book of Drawing Prompts (PDF) by me and the illustrators. Select which book you'd like from the options below. The reward cost includes shipping to any UK address.

£22 or more

5 of 100 claimed

Get a book, gift a book! (shipped to Europe)

We'll send you a hardback copy of one of our new books from the Illustrate This Book series PLUS we will donate a copy to a child via Children's Books Ireland. You will also receive a digital thank you and a Little Book of Drawing Prompts (PDF) by me and the illustrators. Select which book you'd like from the options below. The reward cost includes shipping to any EUROPE address.

£28 or more

4 of 100 claimed

Get a book, gift a book! (shipped to Aus/NZ)

We'll send you a hardback copy of one of our new books from the Illustrate This Book series PLUS we will donate a copy to a child via Children's Books Ireland. You will also receive a digital thank you and a Little Book of Drawing Prompts (PDF) by me and the illustrators. Select which book you'd like from the options below. The reward cost includes shipping to any AUSTRALIA/NEW ZEALAND address.

£40 or more

8 of 50 claimed

Superfan Bundle (Shipped to the UK)

Get all four awesome books in the Illustrate This Book series PLUS a pack of postcards illustrated by the legend that is Rupert Meats from Rude Ltd. Superfans will also receive a personalised digital thank you and a Little Book of Drawing Prompts (PDF) by me and the illustrators. But wait, there's more! With every Superfan Bundle we will donate 10 books to a school. UK shipping costs are included.

£45 or more

10 of 50 claimed

Superfan Bundle (Shipped to Europe)

Get all four awesome books in the Illustrate This Book series PLUS a pack of postcards illustrated by the legend that is Rupert Meats from Rude Ltd. Superfans will also receive a personalised digital thank you and a Little Book of Drawing Prompts (PDF) by me and the illustrators. But wait, there's more! With every Superfan Bundle we will donate 10 books to a school. Shipping costs to EUROPE are included.

£50 or more

5 of 50 claimed

Superfan Bundle (Shipped to Australia/NZ)

Get all four awesome books in the Illustrate This Book series PLUS a pack of postcards illustrated by the legend that is Rupert Meats from Rude Ltd. Superfans will also receive a personalised digital thank you and a Little Book of Drawing Prompts (PDF) by me and the illustrators. But wait, there's more! With every Superfan Bundle we will donate 10 books to a school. Shipping costs to AUSTRALIA/NEW ZEALAND are included.

£80 or more

7 of 10 claimed

Sponsor a Class

Sponsor a class to receive 30 copies of the school edition of Monster Small, Monster Big plus 30 sticker sheets and a class poster. This brilliant pack gives children to chance to create their very own Kids Library in the classroom!

£180 or more

2 of 6 claimed

Sponsor a School

Schools are in desperate need of high-quality, innovative learning resources. With this reward you will be sponsoring a school with high numbers of vulnerable children to receive 120 copies of the school edition of Monster Small, Monster Big plus 4 class posters and 120 sticker sheets. Let's help schools harness the power of collective creativity!

£500 or more

0 of 10 claimed

Become a Patron

Support our work by becoming a patron of the ITB series and of kids' own creativity! With your contribution we will be able to develop more books in the series, working with a diverse group of inspiring artists from around the world. As a patron you will receive a report detailing how your funds have been used, acknowledgement (if you wish) on our website and social media, and your name printed inside the next four books.

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