The author and campaigner formally opened Dinnington Community Primary School’s newly built, bespoke ‘Life-changing Library’, as part of her campaign for more funding for school libraries, and to highlight inequalities that children face.
Dinnington Community Primary School is one of six pilot schools taking part in the project to spotlight the four pillars of a successful ‘gold standard’ school library – space, book provision, expertise, and whole-school and parent involvement.
The ‘Life-changing Libraries’ project was launched by Cowell, who has called on the government to put primary school libraries at the heart of our long term response to the pandemic with a ringfenced, yearly investment of £100m.
Sarah Reason, head teacher of Dinnington Community Primary School said the school community felt “so lucky and privileged” to be part of the pilot.
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“Reading is the key to the curriculum,” added Mrs Reason.
“If we don’t get the reading right, they can’t access any of the curriculum. It’s almost like they’re trapped behind a closed door, so I think it’s really important that you have the library to create that love of reading.
“Being able to capture their imagination through reading is so important.”
Cressida Cowell MBE, the internationally bestselling author-illustrator of the How to Train Your Dragon series, said school libraries are key to the government’s levelling-up agenda, to ensure that no community is left behind.
“The key factor for kids’ economic success – let alone their source of happiness or educational success is linked with reading for the joy of it.
“How can a kid read for the joy of it if their parents can’t afford books – and if there isn’t a public library nearby, and there isn’t a library in their primary school? So this is absolutely key to levelling up.
“It’s so key that a child is able to have a library where the books look like sweets, not brussel sprouts.
“One in eight primary schools don’t have a library, and that number doubles for children on free school meals. You need extra budget, which isn’t huge – this is a third of the sports premium.”
Cowell stresses that this lack of provision means millions of children – particularly those from the poorest communities worst hit by the pandemic and whose parents cannot afford books at home – are missing out on the opportunity to become a reader for pleasure and the vital benefits this chance brings.