In a recent report Save the Children outlined four key drivers to help ensure children are able to read well:
- Celebrating the enjoyment of reading in communities;
- Supporting children to develop good early language skills before starting school;
- Providing the right support to primary schools; and
- Supporting mothers and fathers to help their children's reading.
Little Free Libraries, as part of an overall strategy, are able to support the achievement of each of these four goals, providing an excellent tool to teachers, parents and communities to help promote a love of reading.
At Little Free Library Project UK we are working across the country with communities and schools to help engage children with reading. Clearly what our Little Free Libraries offer is just a small part of the solution. The fantastic work of public libraries, teachers, parents and third sector organisations all works in unison to help promote the love of reading to children and young people.
Our Little Free Libraries are now installed at several primary schools across the UK and the feedback from teachers, parents and children has been overwhelmingly positive.
On 26 March 2015 we installed a new Little Free Library at Heathmere Primary School in Roehampton, London. The school is located at the centre of the Alton estate. As soon as it was installed, and as the school day came to an end, children and parents stopped by to take a look and pick up a book. We asked the Deputy Head, Ben Cooper, why he thought Little Free Libraries could help at Heathmere:
"At Heathmere Primary School, we are passionate about reading. We want to give our children every possible opportunity to pick up a book, open a page and get lost in a story. Developing a love of books and encouraging children to read for pleasure is at the heart of everything we do. We are setting up a library in school, investing in the books children have in class and inviting authors in to school to talk to the children – anything and everything that helps children to read.
As part of this, we want to set up Little Free Libraries in the school grounds. The school is in an area of high deprivation - we know that lots of our children don't have access to many books at home. Having a Little Free Library, where children can choose a book to keep and perhaps return one with a recommendation, will make a huge difference."
Last year we installed several Little Free Libraries at schools in London and Essex, including Frederick Bremer School, Kingston Primary and Thundersley Primary and earlier this year installed four Little Free Libraries at Bearwood Primary School in Birmingham. Next month Priory Infants School in Ramsgate and Chapel End Infants School in Walthamstow will open their new Little Free Libraries.
The Little Free Library at Frederick Bremer School has now been in place for several months. We spoke to English teacher of 23 years, Kate Kelly, to get her feedback on the school's LFL. Here is what she had to say:
"As an English teacher with a passion for improving children's literacy and fostering within them a life long love of books and all they can offer, Little Free Libraries offer an innovative and unique way of promoting reading for pleasure in schools and in our communities."
As part of the Frederick Bremer project we went in to the school to meet year 7 students and involved them directly in the artwork for their Little Free Library. "Getting the children involved in designing the Little Free Library helps give them ownership of the project and they have lots of fun too!" says Little Free Library Project UK director Nick Cheshire.
Being able to access a Little Free Library at school and then finding one outside school in the community helps to create a connection between school and home life. They encourage children and young people to take books home to read, but also help promote the joy of sharing by enabling them to put books into the LFLs too.
Over the course of the next year Little Free Library Project UK will be installing LFLs in many more schools across the country. If you are a teacher or parent and would like to find out more about getting a Little Free Library at your school please contact our director Nick Cheshire or see our website for more details.
Save the Children report: 'Read on, Get on.' September 2014