Who are we?
Kingsley & Co is a literacy project with the vision to engage as many children as possible with stories, reading and adventure. As part of the work we do, we have a bookshop/cafe, work in schools and run workshops as well as many other events which you can check out on our upcoming events page.
Ykids have been working in the community of Bootle for over 20 years running both large scale community events and weekly kids clubs for children ages 4-18. Ykids aims to invest in children and young people, who then gain confidence and self belief to make be the change they want to see in their community.
See our website for information about Ykids Charity, our vision and values.
Who was Mary Kingsley?
Mary Kingsley, a strong independent single woman, first visiting west Africa in 1893. When she returned from exploring in 1895 she wrote two bestselling books about her experiences. These books gave people the chance to see Africa in a new way and influenced public perception of the African people.
This ability to live a dream, explore new things, gain new experience and then communicate it to others are partly the inspiration for Ykids, Kingsley & Co project.
Why does Kingsley exist?
Bootle sits in the bottom 6% of the UK for literacy levels according to the Guardian Newspaper.
This lower level of achievement in reading is not just relevant to the children’s academic achievement, but according to the Literacy Trust this can have an impact on their future lives and their mental wellbeing. There are many factors that contribute to reading attainment, but one main factor according to Government research is reading for pleasure.
What is change we want to see?
Knowing that reading and a love of story makes a difference, we want to see change in our community and beyond.
Vision in action
Kingsley & Co is a children’s literacy project and bookshop with a Victorian Steam punk Explorer theme. Designed as a place to inspire the imagination, Kingsley & Co offers a small café, hidden Discovery Room, themed classroom, excellent quality second-hand children’s books for only £1 and is a showcase for local authors and patrons. The shop has a quirky, “Victorian meets futuristic” feel with moving bookcases, story doors to nowhere, a Victorian sweet shop and fairy tale merchandise.
Join us every weekend for a fun filled, family experience. A range of Author / Story / Drama / Comic / Poetry / Illustration Workshops every Saturday at 11am & 2pm
Our unique, creative space for interactive learning, workshops and immersive storytelling.
Meet The Team
The Kingsley & Co team work alongside a fantastic group of volunteers who support the general running of the shop, as well as creating and maintaining the magical atmosphere.
Chief Executive Officer of Ykids
Kingsley & Co was Claire's 'brainchild' inspired by the life of Victorian Explorer, Mary Kingsley and the steampunk themes of the book 'Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas'. Claire's aim was to create a unique and immersive space to inspire the children of Bootle to read, and in turn reap the life-changing benefits of having access to books and literacy skills. In her spare time, Claire bakes beautiful cakes for local superheroes!
I am absolutely loving my time here. Everyday brings new and exciting challenges, from helping prepare for workshops, supporting children in picking books which will engage to making coffees for parents.
Working in Kingsley never feels like work, it's so enjoyable and rewarding, every day doing activities that make me genuinely happy. Helping support the community I grew up in is so deeply rewarding.
Deputy CEO of Ykids
Darran Draper is the Deputy CEO of Ykids. He has helped develop and build Kingsley & Co from an empty shop unit to an immersive experience for children. He now oversees the staff and development of the project with an eye for detail and a fine hat collection.
Liz is our new Kingsley & Co project manager. She oversees the day-to-day running of the bookshop, manages our wonderful volunteers and will begin leading workshops and event in the coming year. Liz was previously an Early Years Teacher and is a fantastic children's worker.
Jake is our Story Keeper. His role is to help develop our workshops and events as well as our relationships with local schools and authors. Jake has just completed his drama course at LIPA and has a passion to inspire children through drama & stories.