Life-changing Libraries

‘Life-changing Libraries’ is Cressida Cowell’s flagship project as the prestigious Waterstones Children’s Laureate. Over the course of a year, six primary schools across England – all of which have at least 25% of pupils eligible for free school meals – will be helped to develop a reading for pleasure culture, with the support of BookTrust and Cressida.

Cressida Cowell introduces Life-changing Libraries

In an open letter to the Prime Minister, the internationally bestselling author-illustrator of the How To Train Your Dragon series highlighted the shocking effects of long-term underfunding of England's primary school libraries. Millions of children - particularly those from the poorest communities - are missing out on the opportunity to read for pleasure, and all the vital benefits this chance brings.

Find out more about Cressida Cowell's open letter to the government about school libraries

The Life-changing Libraries project will spotlight the four pillars of a successful ‘gold standard’ school library – space, book provision, expertise, and whole-school and community involvement. It is inspired by Cressida’s twenty-year experience visiting schools and grounded in the most recent research into the benefits of reading for pleasure and the challenging financial reality facing primary school libraries.

Each school will have a dedicated library space created by BookTrust and the sponsors of the campaign, and this will be stocked with 1000 titles, selected by BookTrust’s expert book selection team with guidance from the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE), and donated by publishers.

The staff from the six schools will be receive specialised training from the School Library Association and access to the CLPE's Power of Reading Training and Membership, to support them throughout the campaign

Building is set to begin on the libraries in April, and each will officially open in June 2021. The project will monitor the impact of the new libraries on pupils' engagement and reading behaviour over the course of the following year.

The six schools taking part in the project are:

  • Benwick Primary School (Cambridgeshire)
  • Dinnington Community Primary School (Rotherham)
  • Griffin Primary School (Wandsworth)
  • Saviour CE Primary (Manchester)
  • Skerne Park Primary School (Darlington)
  • Woodchurch C of E Primary School (Wirral)

"Put simply, libraries change lives. Literacy changes lives." - A quote by Cressida Cowell."Put simply, libraries change lives. Literacy changes lives." - A quote by Cressida Cowell.

"Many children do not have access to books at home. The children at Skerne Park Primary School have some access to books at school, but with declining budgets these are old and well used, and not very enticing for children to pick them up and read at home. Having new, glossy books presented in a lovely library space would be such an enticement to enabling positive associations with books and reading. After what has been a hugely difficult year, we are thrilled to be part of Cressida’s Life-changing Libraries project, and very much looking forward to building work beginning!"
Kate Chisholm, Headteacher at Skerne Park Primary School


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