Talking to and connecting with a child during the current pandemic lockdown has been given a helping hand through storytelling. WellRead, developed by Derry-Londonderry based organisation Verbal, is a free website aimed at supporting parents of children aged 8- 11 years to nurture a child’s emotional health and wellbeing through stories.  Alongside the many 100s of stories already on the website, Wellread now features stories that will help children to explore the possibilities of looking at the lockdown from a curious and hopeful perspective.

The WellRead website features a collection of carefully curated, new and classic, short stories by authors from all over the world. Engaging plotlines, language and characters are used to explore current issues including:  climate change, bullying, isolation, courage, anxiety and hope. The website features a special section dedicated to the present lockdown. The lockdown story themes include: adjusting to change, battling boredom, connecting with people, helping each other out and staying positive and hopeful. Accompanied by a series of questions using state-of-the-art chatbot technology parents, are guided through a story to help them spark a conversation with their child.

WellRead is designed to help parents talk to their child about emotional wellbeing and for   a child to learn more about their own feelings as well as the feelings of those around them. It also allows children to explore new ways of solving problems and coping with stress.

The WellRead programme was created by Verbal’s in-house team of experts in the fields of literature, psychology and technology. The team of literary curators research and read hundreds of stories before the best are selected and tested before going onto the WellRead website.

WellRead is a development of Verbal’s  project called Reading Rooms which first started during the UK City of Culture celebrations (2013) and is one of the main legacy projects of that initiative. Reading Rooms is a community outreach programme working with specially trained volunteers using poetry and prose to engage with hard to reach, vulnerable groups.

Encouraging parents to use WellRead James Kerr, from Verbal, said:

“During this time of uncertainty, stress and great anxiety the art of storytelling can play an important and vital role. Parents everywhere need as much help as they can get at this time. We know that, at the best of times, talking to your children about their emotional wellbeing can seem daunting, but stories can help. Stories contain new situations and points of view from which you and your child can learn. Stories help us learn because we naturally relate them to our own lives and WellRead uses this to teach us about emotional wellbeing. WellRead is a trusted source during these difficult times that helps you build your child’s emotional wellbeing & resilience in a fun way by reading great stories together which create interesting conversations.”

James further added:

“ Our team of literary curators have been working to curate relevant stories that resonates with parents and children during the lockdown period. We hope that parents and children benefit from the resource and that it helps them to connect more closely with each other and talk about their emotional well-being during this time.”

WellRead is supported by BBC Children In Need Million & Me, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Innovate UK.

To get started with WellRead visit, select sign up and enter a few details. Follow WellRead on Facebook @mywellread, Twitter @my_wellread or Instagram: my wellread.

Leave a Reply