READING opened wide world portals for me in my own childhood. It allowed my imagination to soar and to travel to places beyond whatever situation I found myself in.

Reading is a great equaliser; it inspires us to meet our fellow humans, to understand, empathise and enter landscapes we could never dream of experiencing in one lifetime.

Reading contributes to a better quality of life, impacts on our health, spirit, education and wellbeing... it connects us to each other and our own humanity.

I have seen first-hand - through working with refugee children forced to travel and surviving alone, without family - what a transformational impact escaping into a book can have in helping them to keep hope alive in situations they should never have to face.

To hear a child laugh and reconnect to childhood in these harsh circumstances is life-affirming. It is out of this instinct that I created a magical story hive in my book Where the River Runs Gold, where the children take refuge whenever they need.

However, for millions of children across the globe, especially those displaced and living in war-torn countries, access to books is closed to them.

I want every child to be able to reach for that book that brings them light. That’s why this World Book Day (Thursday, March 5, 2020) I’m supporting Book Aid International. Their fundraising efforts mean more children and young people will have access to books.

Just £2 helps send another book, and the website has plenty of exciting World Book Day fundraising ideas for schools and parents, from a Big Booky Breaktime to a sponsored readathon.

Sita Brahmachari, Brixton