Nailsworth-based charity, Read for Good, has transformed the library facilities at 15 Gloucestershire schools, to give local children access to books and all the benefits of reading.
Libraries are statutory in UK prisons, but not in schools, with one in seven primary schools having no library space at all and varying degrees of quality and accessibility in the schools that do — even though evidence suggests that children who discover a love of reading are happier and more successful in almost all areas of adult life.
Despite the enormous efforts of school staff in Gloucestershire, the lack of budget available to buy books means that many local school libraries are in a dire state, with outdated titles, books stored in boxes or in some cases, on the floor and teachers spending their own money to buy books for their students.
Read for Good partnered with Gloucestershire Libraries and inclusive book specialist, Little Box of Books, to help transform the libraries at 15 local schools, creating dedicated reading spaces and providing 4,500 brand-new books and 780 comics, with a particular focus on inclusive titles to better represent the identities and experiences of local children. It also provided bespoke in-person support from experts at Gloucestershire Libraries.
With one in five children aged five to eight in England not having a single book at home, the transformations mean more than 3,000 primary school children in Gloucestershire now have easy access to books at school.
The schools involved in the project have said that children now enjoy reading more and are reading more often, with 85 per cent of them saying the new books and comics had even encouraged reluctant readers to read more — with the inclusive titles having a particular impact on children who saw themselves reflected in the stories.
Read for Good’s chief executive, Justine Daniels, said: 'School libraries are a matter of social justice. Reading for pleasure can transform a child’s life, but to achieve this our children and young people need access to inviting spaces, packed full of diverse and vibrant, up-to-date books. This project highlights the dire need many schools face — a lack of budget, expertise and resources.'
'It’s been a pleasure working alongside Gloucestershire Libraries and Little Box of Books to provide 15 schools with a much-needed library refresh, turning unloved libraries into child-friendly spaces where children are asking to spend their time.'
Lynsey Pollard, founder and director of Little Box of Books, added: 'Little Box of Books is delighted to have diversified bookshelves across Gloucestershire. The books we've shared will help more pupils to feel seen and validated and help all pupils and teachers to be accepting, understanding and welcoming of difference.
'Bookshelves that show diversity in race, culture and family set up are essential for every school. They help teachers and children to become more fluent in talking about difference, a step towards a society where everybody matters and is represented equally.'