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Libraries for Primaries

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Research shows that when children read for pleasure they get better grades at school, show more empathy towards others and report higher levels of wellbeing.

Sadly, many children don’t have access to the magic of books at home. And - shockingly - 1 in 7 UK primary schools do not have a library or library space.

The Libraries for Primaries campaign is working to address this issue. By Spring 2024, we will have transformed 1,000 primary school libraries. We then want to reach every school in the UK without adequate provision. To achieve this ambition, we need your support!

Read our latest report "Unlocking the Power of Reading"

Background

Founded in November 2021 by the National Literacy Trust and Penguin Books, the Libraries for Primaries campaign (formerly known as the Primary School Library Alliance) is a group of organisations who work to address the chronic lack of investment in UK primary school libraries.

By Spring 2024, we will have transformed 1,000 school libraries and trained over 2,000 teachers and support staff. The next phase of our campaign is to ensure that every primary school in the UK has dedicated library space.

Our partners include Arts Council England, Bloomberg, Chase, the Marcus Rashford Book Club, Oxford University Press, The Portal Trust, The Unwin Foundation, The Julia and Hans Rausing Trust and (at the time of writing) 30 supporting organisations.

How you can get involved

Visit the Libraries for Primaries campaign website for more information.

How we’re taking action

World of Stories has worked with 534 primary schools across the country since 2018, offering free books and resources together with bespoke teacher training.

Chase Rewarding Futures School Libraries Programme is a partnership between digital bank Chase and the National Literacy Trust, supported by Puffin. In the 2021/22 academic year, the Chase Rewarding Futures School Libraries Programme transformed 156 primary school libraries across the UK, helping to improve access to books and reading materials for 54,966 children in seven underserved communities.

Marcus Rashford Book Club is an initiative with Macmillan Children’s Books and KPMG to see books donated through primary schools to reach as many children as possible from disadvantaged backgrounds. In addition, we are installing Marcus Rashford Book Club libraries in schools in Leeds, Manchester and London through our partnership with Burberry.

Raise a Reader Oxfordshire is a partnership between Oxford University Press and the National Literacy Trust. This programme has provided thousands of new books into Oxfordshire primary schools to help reinvigorate their school library and reading spaces, together with a range of audiobooks. Participating primary schools also receive specialist teacher training, access to Oxford Reading Buddy – an interactive digital reading service - and inspiring author events and community-based literacy events to support families with reading for pleasure.

The Coronation Libraries Project celebrates that Her Majesty Queen Camilla has been a strong advocate not only for reading and literacy but also for the vital importance of primary school libraries. In collaboration with some Libraries for Primaries partners, 50 Coronation libraries and reading spaces will be created across the UK in 2023 and 2024. These reading spaces will be established in communities with low levels of literacy where the cost-of-living crisis is biting hardest and children in the Coronation year are least likely to have books at home. Many of these communities live in areas Her Majesty has visited as The Duchess of Cornwall and Patron of the National Literacy Trust. Each library will be refurbished, restocked and a member of staff will be trained to manage it and a range of reading activities for the whole school. In addition, a commemorative plaque will be placed in each library.

Our ambassadors

“As the Children’s Laureate, I included a child’s right to access new books in schools and libraries in my Children’s Charter, and the fact that hundreds of thousands of children in the UK are being denied that right is devastating. How can a child learn to read for the joy of it if their parents cannot afford books, and their primary school does not have a library? It’s a social mobility time bomb. Libraries transform school life far beyond the library doors. They boost attainment, ambition, and attention in the classroom; and improve well-being, alongside increased empathy, confidence and self-worth. Libraries are a space that nothing else can replicate, and the results are clear: they are an intervention that works. We must work together to change this story and put a library and a librarian in every school.”

Cressida Cowell, author, former children’s laureate and National Literacy Trust Ambassador

"Primary school libraries are the key way for children from ALL backgrounds to discover the books of their dreams. With one in eleven children on Free School Meals not owning a book of their own, it can sometimes be the only way. It's shocking, therefore, that 1 in 7 primary schools doesn't have a library. Schools lucky enough to have libraries often aren't able to update their stock with the wonderful, exciting new books that are coming out. If we're to have a future generation of lifelong readers who come from all walks of life, this has to change. Right now, there are young readers out there, who are missing out on the book that was meant for them."

Nazneen Ahmed Pathak, author and Primary School Library Alliance Ambassador

"I firmly believe that ALL children, no matter their family circumstances and regardless of where they live or what school they attend, deserve the opportunity to reap the massive positive benefits of reading for pleasure. That's why every primary school in the UK needs a school library."

Jen Carney, author and Primary School Library Alliance Ambassador

"It’s no secret that we love libraries, in fact we wrote a whole book featuring a heroic librarian! But it’s so important that all children have access to a great library at school. It’s the place we both learned to love reading and stories - something we now know is massively important for all kids, whatever they grow up to be and do. The skills they learn at the library will set them up for life - and everyone deserves that chance."

Greg James and Chris Smith, authors and Primary School Library Alliance Ambassadors
For more information about our campaign, please visit the Libraries for Primaries website

Our flagship partners

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Our supporting partners

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Report illustrations by Alicia Fernandes.

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