News & Events

Recycling books brings joy to children

August 8, 2019

Jill Allan loves books, so much so that three years ago she set up Storycycle, a not-for-profit that aims to extend the life of good quality pre-loved children’s books by giving them to children who might not otherwise have as much access to books.

“The idea in many ways was a no-brainer for me,” Jill said. “As a former children’s librarian working in inner city public libraries for many years, I have been passionate about introducing children to books, and helping them learn to read.”

The opportunity came when Jill left work in 2016 and joined her husband working 2 days a week in their environmental consultancy, Sustainable Resource Use.

“I saw this as an opportunity to do some more volunteer work. I could see that there were families that were “doing it hard” for a range of reasons and may not have the money or knowledge to provide appropriate books for their children to support reading development. I wanted to link them up with books that were languishing in people’s homes or op shops or going into the waste stream,” Jill said.

She did not know anything about Emerge until she started researching organisations that worked with children and wanted books to give them.

“I found Emerge on the Internet and read about the programs and support the organisation delivered and found it inspiring – so I did a cold contact. I was so happy when Emerge accepted my offer of books!” Jill said.

Since then, Jill has delivered tubs of second-hand books to be given away freely to families. However, her commitment has stepped up this year after she attended the Art Therapy 10th Anniversary event when she was inspired to work on a collection of new books that could be kept by staff to use with clients.

“I really felt for children who faced family violence and great upheaval in their life and thought a connection with a book of their own could give some comfort, hope or normality to them. It seemed a minor thing in the face of so many other material, social and emotional needs, but it was something I could do,” Jill said.

“All children have a right to find a story that “clicks” with them – that gives them the sense that they are not alone in their troubles, that fires their imagination or gives them hope or joy.”

“I do get excited when I come across stories that I know are great and kids will love – it’s such a joy to think that new kids can discover them. I am keen to circulate books that reflect the diversity of the world we live in – ones where different ethnic groups, different abilities and different family situations are depicted,” Jill said.

The backbone of Storycycle’s supply is regular donation of books from Savers in Brunswick and Greensborough as they have to make room for the constant supply of donations they get.

‘Since I started Storycycle, I’ve been made aware of how many other people give their time and money incredibly generously in the community, often with little recognition. We are a tiny piece of the puzzle.”

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