E17 windows bring children’s stories to life in our streets

13 primary schools and 200 households took part in March’s #E17StoryWindows trail. The Echo speaks to the organisers and some of this year’s […]By Waltham Forest Echo

One the #E17StoryWindows (Image by Amy Clifton)
One the #E17StoryWindows (Image by Amy Clifton)

13 primary schools and 200 households took part in March’s #E17StoryWindows trail. The Echo speaks to the organisers and some of this year’s participants…

A community of parents and their little ones have brought an array kids’ books to life on the streets of Walthamstow. The E17 Story Windows project saw families create a trail of elaborate handcrafted and handpainted window displays based on their children’s favourite tales – which were displayed from 1st to 31st March.

Such stories included The BFG, Charlotte’s Web and The Cat In The Hat, which was the Owide family’s story of choice.

Sophie and Anthony Owide – parents of six-year-old Jonah, three-year-old Isaac and ten-month-old Reuben – decided to get involved as a reprieve from the stress and monotony of lockdown, particularly as schools were closed on the usually-celebratory World Book Day (4th March).

Dad Anthony painted a giant book cover, while the children got stuck in painting cutout ‘Thing 1’ and ‘Thing 2’ characters.

Of the experience, Sophie told the Echo: “Both me and my husband were off work homeschooling and it was a very welcome distraction from all the worksheets and Zoom calls.

“We’ve loved seeing everyone else’s efforts on our daily walks and been on trails with the children. The E17 Story Windows team have worked so hard on it, and there are so many great windows out there because of their efforts to get the word out.

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“It’s been lovely being part of a shared local experience, especially during lockdown. It has not only helped with our mental health – but has helped get our children engaged in reading again.”

The team behind the project – led by Amy Clifton, a parent governor at Barclay Primary School – say it all began with a simple idea.

Speaking to the Echo, Amy shared: “During this year of lockdowns and restrictions, many libraries and bookshops were closed or harder to access. Many families experienced significant financial hardship. Many schools relied on virtual rather than physical books, and many of those were dependent on access to a device with which to read them.

“In discussion with our Deputy Head Amanda Gunn, we came up with the idea of creating a story windows trail near the Hoe Street school site, with sponsorship from estate agents and suggested donations of books for Barclay pupils to take home.”

Naturally, such a fun, creative and community-focused idea snowballed in popularity – and after being shared on multiple Walthamstow forums and community groups, 13 primary schools and 200 households wanted to take part.

“Collectively I hope we will be able to raise money to provide many books for schoolchildren across E17 and some of E10 too,” Amy says. (You can do this, she adds, by contacting your local school to find out how to donate.)

Amy also notes that “people just wanted to do something positive and creative during this time” – but will the E17 Story Windows trail become an annual event?

Only time will tell, it seems. “Next year, it would be great to get organised super early and to involve all primary schools, possibly secondary schools too!”

To see more E17 Story Windows, visit the Facebook group

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