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New children’s book to inspire future generations to be part of research

Researchers have partnered with a best-selling author to lovingly create a book designed to give children a greater understanding of health and care research. 

With a background in teaching and a carer to young disabled adults, Alex Winstanley is the author behind a popular series of children’s books which promote inclusivity and diversity.

Now, he has worked with the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) as part of a special project to coincide with International Clinical Trials Day.   

Complete with charming illustrations, Ready For Research is a book which aims to get children thinking about the importance of research from a young age. 

The book is aimed at children up to lower Key Stage Two, school years three and four. This age range was chosen to align with the school curriculum focus on introducing children to the importance of helping their community, as being part of research benefits society as a whole. 

Last year, almost 1.3 million people of all ages, including over 80,000 in Greater Manchester, took part in vital health and social care research in England, playing a part in developing better treatments, improving diagnosis, and learning more about prevention of illness to provide better care for everyone. 

However, it is common that people might have questions before agreeing to be part of research. Using lived-experience examples, Ready for Research takes the reader on a journey alongside a young person who, after being invited to take part in a study, overcomes their fears and helps others to do the same. 

The book will be launched at NIHR’s Health Research Festival in Oldham Library, Greaves Street, OL1 1AL, on Saturday 13 May 2023, from 11am. The family-friendly event is free and open to all, and will feature group readings of the brand new book, as well as opportunities to take part in studies and access free health checks. 

The festival marks the beginning of a week of events taking place at NHS sites and community settings across the country to mark International Clinical Trials Day on 20 May. 

Going forward, the book will form part of NIHR Clinical Research Network Greater Manchester’s strategy for engaging and educating young people and schools across the region in health and care research. It will be available in local schools and different care settings to use as an aid when discussing research participation for young people. 

Emma Oughton, Assistant Research Delivery Manager at NIHR Clinical Research Network Greater Manchester, was part of the team that worked with Alex Winstanley on the book. She said: 

“It has been such a fantastic experience to be innovative with this book which will help us raise awareness of research in community settings with the younger generation. We hope by sharing a positive message of research this will inspire our future generations to be part of research.” 

Author Alex Winstanley, who lives in Wigan with his wife and two children, and is also co-founder of the Happy Smiles community interest company, said: 

“It was a pleasure to be asked to be involved in this project. Writing a book that dispels myths and supports inclusion and diversity is something I’m very passionate about and I am pleased to have been able to hopefully do that, through this great book about the benefits of research!”

Tiffany Wellens, lead English teacher at a school in Greater Manchester, will be using the book with her students. She said: 

“This is a fantastic resource for young people to enhance their knowledge and understanding of the purpose of research, how it can benefit society and what it involves for the person directly involved. The information is broken down into manageable amounts and accompanied by helpful and engaging images. This is a great book which I look forward to sharing with my students!”

Ready for Research has been produced in collaboration with the National Institute Health and Care Research (NIHR) organisations Clinical Research Network Greater Manchester and Clinical Research Network West Midlands. 

Request copies of the book

We have a limited number of books available. Health and care organisations based in Greater Manchester, East Cheshire or East Lancashire are welcome to request free copies of the book to support their engagement work with children. 

To make a request, please fill in form. At a future date, the NIHR will get in contact with organisations which have been awarded copies of the book to request evidence of impact.