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Braintree grandmother reads bedtime stories to grandson 10,000 miles away

Penny Warland with her husband choosing books at Braintree Library

Penny Warland with her husband choosing books at Braintree Library

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An Essex gran has found a novel way of keeping in touch with her grandson in Australia - by reading him bedtime stories over the internet.

Penny Warland with her husband skyping The GruffaloPenny Warland with her husband skyping The Gruffalo

Penny Warland, 66, regularly picks out new books from Braintree Library to read to Riley, aged four, who lives move than 10,000 miles away in south Australia.

Mrs Warland calls her relatives via online phone service Skype at 9.30am here, which come through just before Riley’s bedtime at 6pm due to the time difference.

With free book rental from Essex Libraries and no call charges on Skype, the nightly ritual does not cost the retired shop worker a penny on top of her usual internet subscription.

Mrs Warland said: “I always pick up a book for Riley when I’m in Braintree Library as they have a great selection of books, all sorted by age group.

“When grandchildren move away there’s a danger that you end up only knowing them by the photos you’re sent.

“Our Skype sessions allow me to have one-to-one time with him whilst encouraging him with his reading.

“Sometimes I write out the words in the book so I can show him the page on camera and he can read along whilst I read from my notes.

“He is a big fan of The Gruffalo stories.”

Mrs Warland is now urging other grandparents in her position to join Essex Libraries and embrace modern technology to help keep in contact with friends and family members.

She added: “I would encourage everybody to join their local library and learn to use their computer and webcam as it offers a great opportunity to keep in contact with family and friends. It’s a lot easier than people think and you can always ask someone younger for advice if you’re struggling.”

Anne Brown, Essex county councillor for communities, said: “Penny’s efforts are truly heart-warming as a bedtime story can play such a crucial role in introducing children to the wonders of reading at an early age – even if it is read by a grandmother on the other side of the world.

“It is great to see people in Essex embracing modern technology to keep in touch with family abroad and the brilliant selection of children’s books on offer through Essex Libraries.

“Anybody in the county wanting to follow in Mrs Warland’s footsteps or who fears they may be out of touch with modern technology should keep an eye out for events at an array of libraries across the county to help residents become computer savvy.”

For more information on computer literacy and other events at libraries visit a library or call 0345 603 7628.

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