Here we are in November 2023 and watching the launch of another new campaign for school libraries. Libraries for Primaries, founded by the National Literacy Trust and Penguin Books, is calling for the government to commit to match-fund private investment to create more primary school libraries, the aim being to ensure that every child at primary school has access to a dedicated library or reading space.
Research carried out for the campaign reveals that over 750,000 children in the UK do not have a library at their primary school and are therefore missing out on the opportunity to read for pleasure. Furthermore, access varies across the UK, with 18% of primary schools in the north-east of England reporting they do not have a library, compared to just 6% of schools in the south-east.
As part of her Laureate initiative in 2021, Cressida Cowell launched Life-changing Libraries, detailing to the government how a ring fenced, yearly investment of £100m could help ensure that all schools access to the key ingredients required to create and sustain a library space and develop a culture of reading for pleasure.
The new report published by the Libraries for Primaries campaign, funded by Arts Council England, features national polling from research agency Public First, which finds that investment in primary school libraries has the potential to be ‘a key winner with voters across all political parties’ so maybe we can expect to see some action. 85% of parents polled said that it’s important their child reads for pleasure, so that message is clearly getting through.
We look forward to watching the development of more school library spaces.
First Wendy’s House opens its doors in the UK
Earlier this year we reported on the various projects being launched to commemorate the life and work of Wendy Cooling, children’s books champion and creator of BookTrust’s Bookstart programme. We’re delighted to report that on Saturday 25 November, author and illustrator Steve Antony will open the first Wendy’s House in the UK, at Orpington Library. The library will feature pop-up tents where children can explore a selection of books, including some by Wendy Cooling herself. Children’s librarian Jenny Hawke, who worked on the project says, ‘The London Borough of Bromley has an established history with BookTrust and we have seen first-hand the joy which Bookstart packs have brought to families over the years.’ There are already three Wendy’s House projects up and running in India and Malaysia and it’s hoped that many more tents will follow in community spaces across the UK.
Wishing a happy Christmas to our team of reviewers and to our readers
Huge thanks and a very happy Christmas to our team of writers and reviewers. Between them, they have read and reviewed over 500 new children’s books in 2023. We are hugely grateful for their support and careful reading. Happy Christmas too to all our readers and in particular to everyone who has contributed to our fundraising in 2023. If you can, please make a donation, either via our Givey site and with your help, we’ll be here for Christmas 2024 too.