When local teacher Beki Aldam and her small daughters heard that many people didn’t have access to books because of the lockdown, they decided to start a quirky mobile ‘library’.
Beki, Maeve, six, and Iitu, four, set off on their electric cargo bike delivering free books to adults and children around Stroud.
And when residents heard about their half-term project, many got in touch to donate books. Among them was local best-selling author Katie Fforde, who gave Beki a bag of her signed romantic novels.
Beki, of Thrupp, who teaches English and History at the Acorn School in Nailsworth and is a caseworker for Green Party District Councillor Martin Whiteside, had the idea after posting books to her students during lockdown and hearing of people not having enough to read due to the libraries being closed.
Beki then asked on social media if anyone would like to give or receive a book and was amazed by the response. “I was so touched by the offers of books, and Katie’s were received particularly enthusiastically by the recipients,” said Beki.
Beki and her children wrapped the books and wrote a gift tag for each, before stacking up their bike each day of the February half term and cycling around to deliver them. Their ‘customers’ included Stroud Maternity Unit, where new mums now had plenty to read while waiting for their babies to arrive.
Beki loved the reactions she got from the recipients.
“People were very happy and touched,” she said. “One man said his wife loved reading but could not easily get hold of books as she wasn’t able to get out very much anymore.”
She added: “It is estimated that during the first lockdown one in four children didn’t have access to a book. Although libraries have been brilliantly supporting the community with e-books and partially re-opening where possible, many people have been unable to access copies of books during the lockdown, especially if they are shielding or less able to afford buying them online. So it was lovely to be able to help in a small way – and my daughters really enjoyed their time as mini-library workers!”