Former Bamber Bridge teacher gets kids ‘hooked on to books’

Posted on - 8th July, 2019 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Bamber Bridge, Kid's stuff, People, Preston News, What's On in Preston
Rachel with her Book Swap Boxes
Rachel with her Book Swap Boxes

An ex-primary school teacher has inspired children to look at books in a different way.


Rachel Tomlinson from Bamber Bridge was in education as a teacher and Assistant Head for 14 years before leaving to concentrate on her young family.

Her new business – Reading and Beyond – developed from her passion to support and equip parents with tools, resources and tips to get their children to not only read but to love reading.

Rachel said: “I have always been passionate about finding different ways to hook children into learning across the curriculum and found that stories inspired projects and learning. This has come from spending many a parents evening listening to frustrated parents who struggle to get their children to engage with reading at home and I want to make this as easy and accessible for parents to do.

“I have seen over many years the head start you can give a child just by reading to them and by creating a love of reading at home so I want to really get this message across.”

Reading and Beyond started life as ‘Read it now Mummy’ as Rachel’s eldest used to bring her book after book and say ‘read it now mummy’ constantly, as he just loved snuggling up with a story together.

As a mother she was completely taken aback by the role and impact stories have on our lives and on both her children’s development, especially their language.

She said: “I already knew the power books can have from being a teacher for so long but until seeing it day in day out first hand I don’t think I truly appreciated it. I just wanted to share this reading journey we were on and the books and activities we love which I began to do through the power of social media and that’s how Reading and Beyond began.”

Although her new business began once she left teaching, Rachel’s fantastic idea of a Book Swap Box actually started a few years ago in her classroom as a simple box filled with some of her old books. It was as a way to provide children with easy access to new gently preloved books and a way to encourage children to read more and more widely.
She felt it was also the perfect opportunity to challenge the ideas of a throwaway society help children to understand the idea of reusing and recycling and how they can do their little bit to look after the world.

Rachel with her Reading and Beyond Banner

Rachel said: “After finishing teaching to be at home more with my little ones I started to create Book Swap Boxes for the local community and to spread the word about Reading and Beyond. I didn’t ever really intend to build on this but schools became interested and I’ve now created Book Swap Boxes for a number of schools across the country- one fantastic school now has 3 Book Swap Boxes tailored to the different key stages in their school!

“I have had amazing feedback from schools, parents and the children themselves which is all the motivation I need to build on this and to get more children book swapping.”

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As well as her Book Swap Boxes Rachel has also created two Hooks into Books bags one for Early Years children and one for Primary age children.

The idea behind these is that they are filled with questions and activities to add that little bit extra when reading with or to your child. It’s a quick and easy resource that can be kept in a book bag or book shelf to help stimulate quality talk and story-based play with your little ones.

She also runs two classes and launched her new class on Friday 5 July.

She said: “My workshops are story inspired creative play and craft sessions with a real emphasis on getting children hooked on books, loving reading and to support them along their reading journey. Each session always ends with Book Swap where children can bring along a book from home to swap with one in my Book Swap Box.”

The new class is two hours, with two designated story sessions and snacks to keep the little ones fuelled with tea/coffee and biscuits for the grown-ups.
Another little addition to this class will be Book Swap for the grown-ups as well as the Little Book Swappers.

Rachel said: “I hope to grow my classes further and to get more schools on board with Book Swap. I would love to see a Book Swap Box in every school in the area if not the country why not dream big!

“I also have a little local collaboration in the pipeline with a gorgeous local business all in the mission to get kids hooked on books so watch this space.”

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Reading and Beyond classes take place at Tiny Teacups Play Café on Mondays – 9:30 -10:30am and Fridays at St Aidans Church Hall, Bamber Bridge – 9:30 -11:30am.

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