Inspiring parents through storytelling

Our innovative bilingual storytelling project celebrated families’ cultures, inspiring parents to enjoy literacy with their children

Client: Bell Foundation


The challenge

In 2013, 80% of parents we surveyed said they do not enjoy books and stories with their children because they lack confidence in English. What’s more, the saw literacy as a ‘school issue’ and not something they could support.

To address this, Renaisi’s Bilingual Adviser Service developed a Bilingual Storytelling Project, with support from the Bell Foundation. Run in six Islington and Westminster primary schools, it aimed to inspire parents of children who speak English as an additional language (EAL) to engage in school-based literacy – using their own languages, cultures and stories to build new imaginative stories with their children.

Our approach

The project opened with an inspirational event, hosted by professional storyteller Vanessa Woolf.  Vanessa worked with families to build confidence in their storytelling skills by exploring their own cultural heritage. Over the following five weeks, each school group undertook a series of storytelling workshops, culminating in a final showcase event where they presented their finished story.


Parents felt more confident about using their home language and culture to support their children’s learning

The percentage of parents with high confidence confidence in telling stories rose from 30% to 58%, whilst those who stated feeling ‘nervous’ fell from 23% to 6%.

Children felt more confident about using their bilingual skills in school, resulting in improved engagement in literacy.

At the projects start, 68% of children said they felt either happy or very happy about. This rose to 88% at the end: an increase of 20%. This includes 58% of children who felt very happy, compared to only 26% at the start of the project.

Read more about this project here