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Fenland school books in with library project




A Fenland school has teamed up with Waterstones Children's Laureate Cressida Cowell as part of a flagship project to transform school libraries.

Cressida has announced plans for a new initiative to showcase the transformative impact a well-resourced primary school library has on a child’s opportunities in life, alongside the vast inequality currently facing children across England.

‘Life-changing Libraries’ is Cressida’s flagship project as the prestigious Waterstones Children’s Laureate helps six very different primary schools across England – including Benwick Primary School here in Fenland - to develop a reading for pleasure culture, with the support of BookTrust.

Waterstones Children's Laureate Cressida Cowell has launched a flagship project to improve school libraries. (46014146)
Waterstones Children's Laureate Cressida Cowell has launched a flagship project to improve school libraries. (46014146)

A bespoke, dedicated library space will be created by BookTrust in each of the primary schools and stocked with a specially curated book list of approximately 1,000 titles, selected by BookTrust’s expert team with guidance from the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE), to inspire and engage children.

Staff will be provided with professional training and mentoring from specialists at the School Library Association as part of a two year-membership, and teachers will have access to the CLPE’s Power of Reading Training and Membership.

Benwick head teacher Clare Talbot said: "We are thrilled to be taking part in such an exciting project and looking forward to seeing that ‘wow’ moment when they see the library for the first time and their eyes light up.

Waterstones Children's Laureate Cressida Cowell has launched a flagship project to improve school libraries. (46014146)
Waterstones Children's Laureate Cressida Cowell has launched a flagship project to improve school libraries. (46014146)

"I want this experience to give our children a lifelong memory of our library as a bright, inviting and trusted place, and for the shelves of books to open their eyes to the vibrant world outside."

The Waterstones Children’s Laureate has also called on the Prime Minister to help reverse the spiralling inequality in education by putting primary school libraries at the heart of our long term response to the pandemic with a ring fenced, yearly investment of £100m.

The internationally bestselling author-illustrator of the 'How to Train Your Dragon' series yesterday (Tuesday) published an open letter – supported by former Laureates, literacy organisations, and publishing industry leaders – asking the Government to demonstrate their commitment to levelling up the country by improving primary school library provision.

The Children’s Laureate highlights the shocking reality – and severe long-term underfunding – of England’s primary school libraries with evidence showing a lack of the key ingredients: space, resource and expertise. Whilst every prison has a statutory library, research shows one in eight primary schools has no library space at all - a statistic that doubles in schools with a higher proportion of children on free school meals.

Cressida stresses that this lack of provision means millions of children – particularly those from the poorest communities worst hit by the pandemic and whose parents cannot afford books at home – are missing out on the opportunity to become a reader for pleasure and the vital benefits this chance brings.

The life-changing Libraries project is being supported by: Reading Cloud, who are providing a library management system subscription for each school; FG Library and Learning, who are helping refresh spaces with furniture and display products; Promote Your School, who are creating bespoke wall art; Rising Stars Reading Planet, who are donating online eBook subscriptions to each school; Jobtrain; Tonies, who are providing each school a Toniebox; leading UK publishers, who are donating books to stock the new library spaces; and CLPE, who are providing Power of Reading Membership for all the schools.

Building is set to begin on the libraries this month ahead of officially opening in June.



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