“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” – Stephen King

This is a philosophy shared by one bookshop in Gerrards Cross, which has taken it upon itself to share the magic of books with less fortunate children.

This Christmas, Gerrards Cross and Chorleywood bookshops are, once again, giving back. The bookshops launched Gift a Book last year to give underprivileged children in Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire a new book to love and cherish at Christmas.

Organiser Kira Gibson told the Bucks Free Press she started the initiative as she felt everyone should “have the joy of reading” in their lives.

She said: “Being independent bookshops, we love books and I thought it would be a nice idea to give back to the community.

“Books are expensive and being an independent we don’t get the kinds of discounts that some of the bigger businesses get.

“We appreciate that and we thought it would be a nice idea for kids who couldn’t normally afford to have a book would be able to get one for Christmas and we’re biased, we think books make the best presents.”

The bookshops worked with The Dorcas Project, started by High Wycombe health worker Jo Preston, Castlefield Children’s Centre, part of Action for Children, in High Wycombe, and Three Rivers Children’s Centre, in Rickmansworth, to donate books to children who need it most, as well as Storybook Dads and Storybook Mums to donate books to HM Prison The Mount in Bovingdon.

People could go into the bookshops and buy one or more books for an age group of their choice, or, for the first time, donate £5 or £10 online and either choose the books themselves or ask the bookshops to choose.

The books were then wrapped up and sent to the various charities to give out to families from Father Christmas.

Kira added: “Underprivileged children don’t have the opportunities that everybody else does.

“I think our system is wonderful and it does take great care of people and we are very fortunate in this country to have such an amazing system, however something like books is seen as a luxury item – it’s not a staple.

“They’ll have books at school but if they’re attending a slightly underprivileged school – again libraries are being cut, there isn’t the funding there used to be and so they don’t have the access, especially to new books, and I think there’s something very special about having your own book and that’s why I think it’s so important that these kids do.”

Last year, kind-hearted residents donated 333 books – this year, the number rose to 350.

Speaking about the benefits of giving books as presents, Kira said: “Books are wonderful, they are so good for everything – imagination, for creativity, for education, spelling, grammar – you name it.

“It’s a wonderful thing. If you haven’t had the easiest of starts to life, which is quite common in a lot of people’s lives, a book is a wonderful escape.

“You can read it and you can be somewhere else. You can read it and you are a student at Hogwarts, you can be going through the coats into Narnia, you can be falling down a rabbit hole, you can be a knight slaying dragons – you can be whatever it is you want to be.

“I think there is just so much a book gives you and they stay with you. We all remember books from childhood. We all know the books that we love – they’re all in our attics somewhere, and I think everyone should have that joy in their lives.

“It’s such a joy to read and to have that one book that you’ll love and remember, it just such a wonderful thing.”

She told the Free Press the books were given to the children from Father Christmas – so the role of the bookshops are kept a secret – adding: “I’m adamant that it has to be from Father Christmas because that’s where the magic is.

“We always get a really great response, which is really nice, from the people buying the books who say, ‘This is such a great idea, why has nobody else thought of it?’

“It’s fantastic for us too because we can delve into the children’s section and revisit our own favourites.”