Flood-hit school is given the gift of reading to help replenish classrooms

21 Feb 2020
Castle Hills books

Our Doncaster Stories campaign donated 600 books to Castle Hills Primary School in Scawthorpe after the town was hit by the worst flood in 100 years last November. We rallied support from 12 publishers who offered books to the school and across the wider community.

500 homes were flooded and more than 1,000 properties were evacuated as a result of the floods. Many schools were forced to close as a precautionary measure andCastle Hills Primary School was severely affected by flood waters. The school lost all of their Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 classrooms as well as the school library and play equipment.

After the floods, Neil Harris, Assistant Head Teacher for Castle Hills, appealed to our campaign for help with restocking classrooms and the school library. We co-ordinated a mass book giveaway across the town with help from The Literacy Project– an initiative run by The Publishers Association to match the unique assets of the publishing industry with local organisations to raise literacy levels in the communities that need it most.

Doncaster Stories, funded by the Doncaster Opportunity Area, is a community-driven campaign to boost literacy levels across the town. Over the next 10 years, Doncaster Stories will embed a love of reading in the community and raise awareness around the importance of literacy to young people’s futures.

Almost 6,000 books were donated to schools and charities in Doncaster, who have helped to redistribute them among families who were affected by the floods.

Our research found that 1 in 8 disadvantaged children in Doncaster do not have a book at home which could negatively impact their development. Children who do own books are six times more likely to read above the expected level. Therefore, the books that Castle Hills pupils have in their classrooms are all the more vital as they will be the only reading materials that many of the children have access to.

A book donation was also made to Re-Read, a local social enterprise that distributes second hand books to children and families across Doncaster. Their warehouse was flooded and over 100,000 books were lost as a result.


“The flood damage was devastating for our school, and so much had to be thrown away. We had to throw out tables, chairs, and around 900 books – some of which had been bought by the teachers. This donation is therefore really appreciated, and the wider community have really come together to help our get us back on our feet as quickly as possible.”

Neil Harris, Assistant Head Teacher for Castle Hill Primary School

“I’m grateful that we were able to rally support from so many fantastic publishers to get 6,000 brand new books into schools and homes badly affected by the floods. The community really pulled together after the floods and we wanted to be able to contribute towards these efforts. We know that books have the power to transform children’s reading skills, enjoyment and mental wellbeing but our research shows that 1 in 8 children in Doncaster don’t have a book of their own at home. This makes the books they access at school all the more important, so we were pleased that Doncaster Stories could help to restock the libraries of the schools that needed it most.”

Mike Leyland, Project Manager for Doncaster Stories