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Books in the Hands of Children: PLS and Halstan Gather Books for Displaced Ukrainian Children

By Shania N. Soler


“Books not only entertain and educate us – they also unite us and bring us back to a feeling of home. This project is our victory on the cultural front, and it brings our primary victory closer.” Olena Zelenska, Ukrainian First Lady


Millions of people have been displaced since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022. Families have crossed borders and children have found themselves in unfamiliar settings, surrounded by unfamiliar people. To help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety while also counteracting the disruption to their education, Publishing Licensing Services (PLS) and Halstan have come together to produce 16,000 books for the displaced children of Ukraine. Sarah Faulder, Chief Executive of PLS, has indicated feeling “proud that PLS has been able to play a part, on behalf of publishers, in supporting the First Lady’s initiative to turn to the power of books to bring comfort to displaced Ukrainian children taking refuge in the UK.”


“This project aims to provide young readers with many much-loved books from their homeland so they can feel connected and hopefully find some comfort, while assisting with their education and development whilst they are away from home.” Rupert Smith, Chief Executive of Halstan


The books will be placed into the hands of refugee children arriving in the United Kingdom (UK) as part of the “Books Without Borders” initiative created by Olena Zelenska, the First Lady of Ukraine. The scheme has already worked to distribute 160,000 books around the world. The aim is to create a physical connection between the displaced children and their homeland. As the First Lady explains, "[w]e can bring the homeland to Ukrainian children in the form of books. We called this project ‘Books Without Borders’ as Ukrainian books can travel with Ukrainians to any country where they are needed.” Ukrainian publishers have helped with the initiative by donating sixteen layouts for picture books and novels for children aged three to seventeen.


Additional support was given by Canon Commercial Print Division and Premier Paper, alongside the Bookmark Reading Charity, who donated an additional 1,000 books from their Bookbox campaign. Bookmark Reading is a literacy charity that provides volunteer-led reading support for children around the world. It recently launched an appeal to raise £1 million to provide book boxes to Ukrainian children aged five to nine arriving in the UK.


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