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Our Summer intern Vanessa Browne shares more on Lantana’s incredible milestone of 500 book donations and her experiences with the team this month, as well as her take on the importance of storytelling for children in difficult circumstances.
On the first Monday of July, I began interning with Lantana Publishing - rather surreally - from my living room. As we draw near to the month’s close, I’ve been reflecting on all the things that I’ve learned since that first Monday morning. Assisting the Lantana team this month has been many things, but ‘dull’ hasn’t been one of them. There were lots to do from the start, and one of my first tasks was coordinating a big, and very important, delivery of books. This wasn’t a sale, but a donation.
Some may be unaware (I wasn’t before starting) that Lantana is not just a publishing house, it’s a social enterprise. This means that they intentionally utilise profits to facilitate social good. In our case, that involves our A Book for A Book programme. For every print book that has been purchased directly from our website, we commit to donating one book to children in need, through our charity partner, Read for Good.
This month, we were pleased to announce to them and to the public that we reached 500 book donations, as a result of the continued support of our customers.
Books for children in upheaval
For the past year, we have partnered with the children’s literacy charity, Read for Good, to fulfil our donation commitments. They are committed to making sure that every child, regardless of circumstance, has access to great books, and develops the habit of reading for enjoyment early, a practice with proven developmental benefits. Part of this, naturally, involves working with schools, many of which are facing dire straits due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s wonderful to know that some of our books will be going towards stocking the shelves of schools and educational institutions that need it the most.
As well as this, Read for Good has their long-standing Hospital Programme, in which they partner with 30 hospitals around the country, sending trained professionals to run storytelling sessions in children’s hospitals and pediatric units, as well as filling their mobile bookshelves, ensuring that even children who are bedbound can still access them if they wish. This runs deeper than simply being a novelty exercise; engaging young patients with joyful, creative pastimes like reading can aid in reducing their anxiety, which can in turn lessen the time that staff need to spend settling them, and even reduce the time that those attending operations need to spend in anaesthetic. It brings Lantana great joy to have literally provided hundreds of books to NHS hospitals during a time in which the heroism and hard work of their staff has been highlighted even more than usual.
Watch the BBC film showcasing their work on Children in Need
The Power of Stories
Those who know Lantana are probably aware of its origin story. It started with a very simple vision from the founder and CEO, Alice Curry, to see more diverse representation in children’s stories. It’s been pretty amazing to learn more of their trajectory in the short space of 6 years.
Lantana has several beautiful, award-winning stories - featuring a truly diverse selection of main characters and creators - to their name. This is what drew me to them in the first place. And unfortunately, this is not yet the industry norm. In my work with them over the course of this month, it’s been incredible to see the reach and impact that a small publishing house with a unique vision can have. Though based in Oxford, their books have an international reach, and I’ve handled enquiries from Africa, mainland Europe and North America whilst here.
I got into this industry because I believe in the power of storytelling, especially for young people. A reader can travel without a passport. They can understand different people and places. They can understand themselves better. Sitting in on a (virtual) team meeting, I felt contagious excitement and energy as they divulged their upcoming releases of fun, emotive and surreal stories in the pipeline. I thought about the children that would one day enjoy them, too, and how these books could help - even if just momentarily - to boost a child’s mood or distract them from discomfort.
I feel very fortunate that my first work experience placement has been with a publisher that aligns so much with my values, and that showcases the best of what publishing can achieve, when practical steps are taken to ensure diversity of content and positive social outcomes. I, for one, can’t wait to see what’s next.
Thank you, Vanessa! And we want to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who’s supported us in getting to this milestone by purchasing our beautiful print books. We couldn’t have done it without you!
Click HERE to take a look at our current titles. Every print book purchased will continue to support this fantastic cause!
Enjoy videos of some of the wonderful books YOU donated, read by their brilliant authors:
Vanessa Browne joined Lantana as a Projects Intern in July 2020. She graduated from University College London with a degree in MSc International Planning. She has an unending fascination with different cultures and cities, and has always loved the way stories can illuminate the world around us. You can find her on Twitter @girlintransituk and on her blog, www.girlintransit.co.uk.