The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Festival of Social Science is a celebration of research in the field of social sciences. This year, the Festival took place throughout the UK from 3 to 10 November. Its goal is to promote awareness of UK social science research to new audiences. Two of the 300+ Festival events were organised by our members of staff drawing from their previous research, and the events were funded by the ESRC. Details of these events, which took place on 6 November, can be found below.


‘Multilingual Storytime’


The event was organised by Dr. Holly JosephDr. Naomi Flynn and Dr. Anna Wolleb (Bilingualism Matters), and held at Reading Central Library. 

Multilingual parents and students got to read stories and led fun story-based activities for young children in community languages. The event was open to multilingual and monolingual families and was a celebration of both the diversity of languages in Reading and the great research that goes on at the University of Reading. Participants was also able to ask experts questions about how they could best support their child to speak and read in your home language. The event provided the opportunity for children and parents/carers to meet other families who share the same home languages in order to strengthen communities and build new friendships.

The event was very well received, and some of the feedback from the participants included: “It was great to understand more about Hindi letters and sounds”, “The story tellers kept children interested and engaged in the story even if they didn’t speak the language being used.” and “ It was great to hear the children’s classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar in several different languages.”

Dr. Flynn’s research into the experiences of Polish children in primary schools (Flynn, in press) indicates that bilingual children can feel that their language worlds of home and school are very separate. Bringing multilingual storytelling to the library is an effective way of demonstrating that language experiences outside the home can be celebratory of children’s mixed linguistic identities.


‘Working with parents: A holistic approach to fostering partnerships’


The event was organised by Professor Carol Fuller and Dr. Maria Danos.

At this event, research findings as part of their Marvellous Mums programme and 4Ps project which set out to explore effective ways to work in partnership with parents and develop parents’ confidence and self-efficacy, were shared at the Department for Work and Pensions in Reading with over 30 professionals who work closely with parents. A short film illustrating the project, which had been developed specifically for this event, was also shown to the participants. Additionally, some of the mums who had participated in the Marvellous Mums programme also got to share their own experiences, challenges and benefits from taking part in this project.

The event was a big success and the participants were very interested to hear about the research. They also found the opportunity to talk to some of the mums that participated in the Marvellous Mums project exciting. Their feedback include: “Excellent work. Good learning experience! Very interesting and informative”, “Great session. Marvellous Mums sessions will be a great resource for the families and women” and “This is a great group doing wonderful work in the community that are changing women’s lives”.