Emma Bowd: Ardoch’s Ambassador for “School Readiness Book Drive”

Emma Bowd social media 3

This year, Ardoch has pledged to support 1,000 children from disadvantaged communities who are starting school in 2017 by providing them with School Readiness Packs. Each pack contains 5 books and 5 activities to enhance their fine motor skills. This means we need to source 5,000 children’s books for the packs before the end of the year!

We are happy to start Children’s Book Week by announcing that Bayside author Emma Bowd has agreed to become our Ambassador for the “School Readiness Book Drive”. She will be promoting our book drive in schools, libraries and communities across Melbourne, encouraging generous Melburnians to help children and young people facing disadvantage make a smooth transition to school life.

Here’s why Emma thinks our cause is worth pitching into.

Why are you choosing to support our “School Readiness Book Drive”?

I believe all children have the right to become literate members of society - irrespective of their postcode. Ardoch’s School Readiness Book Drive is a practical and effective way to support children in areas of disadvantage by providing them with early access to books - the stepping stones to literacy.

Interestingly, when I had my first child in London, in 2000, every baby born in the UK that year was given a ‘Bookstart’ pack of books. It was privately funded and was called the ‘Millennium Project’. As a direct result of the project, the ‘Bookstart’ programme grew into a partnership between government agencies and publishers, which now gifts more than 2 million books each year to babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers across the UK - including 5,000 packs for children with additional needs (e.g. hearing impaired, partially sighted, fine motor difficulties).

I’m very proud to be an Ambassador for Ardoch’s visionary School Readiness Book Drive. It is my hope that Australia can soon mirror the UK’s national book gifting programme and offer every child in Australia an equal start to their literacy journey.

As an author, what do you feel when you hear that so many Australian children struggle with their literacy skills?

Literacy quite simply transforms lives. It empowers personal growth and well-being; facilitates social mobility; and fosters a culture of learning and engagement with the wider world. An advanced economy like Australia should be aiming for nothing less than 100% literacy and I am extremely saddened to hear that so many Australian children are struggling with literacy skills.

What more do books mean to children apart from literacy and language development?

As an author, a former Occupational Therapist and a mum of two, I’ve got lots of reasons why books and young children go so well together!

For example, reading aloud with young babies and children promotes physical closeness and bonding; fosters inquisitiveness and sharing of ideas; reinforces turn taking, routine and structure; enhances fine and gross motor skills; allows opportunities to practice visual tracking and visual memory skills; and provides positive role modelling of the physical act of reading.

Picture books also allow young children to hold a ‘mirror to the world’ in a very supportive environment and help to explain things in ‘their language’. (I especially loved reading toddler books with feisty main characters who liked to say ‘no’ a lot!). The written page of a traditional print book also offers essential timeout from the cognitive overload of the digital screen world.

Also, let’s not underestimate the joy of simply spending time with children; and making funny noises; and rolling around on the floor with a good book!

We thank Emma Bowd for her passionate support of early childhood literacy in Australia. You can join Emma by:

  • Donating a new children’s book to Ardoch (Robinson’s Bookshop is partnering with us for the drive. But a book here to get a 25% discount. The shop will directly deliver the book to us). 
  • Organise your own book drive for Ardoch. To find out how, contact Isobel Michael at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or on 03 9537 2414.

Ardoch Youth Foundation is an education charity  that supports children and young people from disadvantaged communities.