The Duchess of Cornwall joins Waterstones Children's Laureate Cressida Cowell MBE to open 'Life-changing Library' at Griffin Primary School in Wandsworth

Published on: 21 June 2021

This morning, The Duchess of Cornwall joined Waterstones Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell MBE at Griffin Primary School in Wandsworth, South London to formally open their newly built, bespoke ‘Life-changing Library’.

Children's Laureate Cressida Cowell and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall at Griffin School’s new library. Artwork on wall designed by Promote Your School. Photography by David BebberChildren's Laureate Cressida Cowell and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall at Griffin School’s new library. Artwork on wall designed by Promote Your School. Photography by David Bebber

Griffin Primary School is one of six pilot primary schools selected to take part in Cressida Cowell’s flagship project as Waterstones Children’s Laureate – ‘Life-changing Libraries’ – which is designed to showcase the transformative impact a well-resourced primary school library has on a child’s opportunities in life.

On arrival, Her Royal Highness – who has been Patron of BookTrust since 2011 – was introduced to Cressida Cowell MBE, Waterstones Childrens’ Laureate 2019 – 2022; Karen Bastick-Styles, Executive Head Teacher of Griffin Primary School; Hugh Greenway, Trust CEO of Griffin Primary School; and Diana Gerald, CEO of BookTrust, the UK’s largest children’s reading charity and custodians of the Waterstones Children’s Laureate role.

Together with Cressida Cowell and two pupils from Griffin Primary School, Her Royal Highness cut the ribbon to officially open the state-of-the-art library. Inside the beautiful new space, The Duchess read The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr to a class of Year 2 pupils, and then took part in a ‘draw-along’ session led by Cressida Cowell, the internationally bestselling author-illustrator of the How to Train Your Dragon series.

To mark the occasion, the pupils at Griffin Primary performed a specially written song about books and reading in their ‘Forest in the City’ outdoor space, where Her Royal Highness presented three of her favourite children’s books as gifts to the school: The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy; Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome; and The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.

Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Cressida Cowell MBE, now embarks on a tour to visit the other schools taking part in project, to meet the teachers and pupils, and officially open their new ‘Life-changing Libraries’.

Griffin School's new library wallGriffin School's new library wall

About Life-changing Libraries

Decades of research demonstrates the life-changing impact that reading for pleasure has on a child’s educational development, health and well-being, personal growth and future prospects, no matter their starting point in life. School libraries are vital to giving all children access to books and reading, but evidence 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.

The ‘Life-changing Libraries’ initiative will spotlight the four pillars of a successful ‘gold standard’ school library – space, book provision, expertise, and whole-school and parent involvement, with schools supported in developing a ‘reading for pleasure’ culture.

Following building work and installation, Griffin’s beautiful, state of the art, library space is now ready and stocked with a specially curated book list of approximately 1000 titles, selected by BookTrust’s expert book selection team with guidance from the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE), to inspire and engage children. Griffin staff are also being provided with professional training and mentoring from specialists at the School Library Association, with access to the CLPE’s Power of Reading Training and Membership. 

With Griffin’s pupils able to enjoy the new space, the project will monitor the impact on their engagement, attitudes and reading behaviour across 12 months, collecting qualitative stories and case studies.

HRH the Duchess of Cornwall reads The Tiger Who Came To Tea

Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Cressida Cowell, MBE, said:

"The response to ‘Life-changing Libraries’ has been incredible, and the formal opening of these beautiful new library spaces is a very exciting moment in the campaign. I am honoured that The Duchess of Cornwall was able to join us at Griffin Primary School for the first of these special occasions, and I’m looking forward to visiting the other pilot schools across England over the next few days to celebrate the magic of reading and the transformative power of literacy and libraries."

Diana Gerald, CEO at BookTrust, said:

"We are so grateful for Her Royal Highness’ support as Patron of BookTrust – her love of books is an inspiration, and we are thrilled that she was able to join us today for such a wonderful morning celebrating the power of reading."

Karen Bastick-Styles, Executive Head Teacher of Griffin Primary Schoolsaid:

"It was a privilege to welcome Her Royal Highness and Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Cressida Cowell, to Griffin this morning for the official opening of our wonderful new library. Having seen the space transform over the past few weeks with mysterious deliveries, our students are excited to explore their new library and share all the shiny new books.
This initiative will be invaluable in bringing new opportunities and inspiring our Griffin students, and to have The Duchess of Cornwall formally launch our ‘Life-changing Libraries’ journey is an experience that our young people will never forget."

Find out more about our Life-Changing Libraries project here

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