Primary school joins laureate's £100m-a-year bid to boost libraries

Cressida Cowell MBE Waterstones children's laureate

Benwick Primary School are one of six schools that will take part in the 'life-changing libraries' initiative headed by Cressida Cowell MBE, Waterstones children's laureate. - Credit: David Bebber

A village primary school will aim to boost children’s opportunities and tackle inequality through reading as part of a national project. 

Benwick Primary School is one of six schools across the country to take part in the ‘life-changing libraries’ initiative, announced by Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Cressida Cowell MBE. 

Clare Talbot, headteacher at Benwick Primary School, said: “We are thrilled to be taking part in such an exciting project for our children and community and looking forward to seeing that ‘wow’ moment when they see the library for the first time and their eyes light up.  

“I want this experience to give our children a lifelong memory of our library as a bright, inviting and trusted place, and for the shelves and shelves of books to open their eyes to the vibrant world outside.” 

The project aims to showcase the impact a “well-resourced" primary school library can have on a child’s opportunities in life to try and reverse the effects of inequality facing children across England. 

As part of the project, a library space consisting of around 1,000 titles will be installed at the school by reading charity BookTrust. 

The library, which is due to open in June, aims to inspire and engage pupils by reading for pleasure, with all titles selected by BookTrust. 

Children's laureate calls on government to fix primary school libraries

Cressida Cowell MBE has called on the government to provide an annual investment of £100m towards primary school libraries as part of its response to the Covid-19 pandemic. - Credit: BookTrust

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Diana Gerald, CEO at BookTrust, said: “Reading opens up a world of new possibilities for children and develops aspiration, with research showing that it can drive social mobility and mitigate the effect of social inequality.  

“BookTrust is delighted to be supporting Cressida’s initiative and helping develop new library spaces that inspire a reading for pleasure culture within these six schools.” 

The project will also monitor the impact on pupils across 12 months.

As part of the campaign, Cowell has called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to provide a ringfenced annual investment of £100m towards primary school libraries as part of its response to the pandemic. 

Benwick Primary School pupil Read to Succeed

Pupils at Benwick Primary School will benefit from a new library as part of the 'life-changing libraries' initiative headed by Cressida Cowell MBE. Pictured: A Benwick Primary School pupil with a donated book as part of MP Steve Barclay's Read to Succeed campaign in 2019. - Credit: Ian Carter

In an open letter supported by the likes of Michael Rosen, the laureate wants the government to show their commitment towards improving primary school library provision “to help children whose future lies in the balance”. 

The schools taking part in the project alongside Benwick Primary School are:  

  • 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 

For more information on the ‘Life-changing libraries’ project, visit: https://www.booktrust.org.uk/lifechanginglibraries.  

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