Give a Book is a UK based charity set up in 2011, that promotes books and the pleasure of reading in the hardest places. Our main areas of work are in schools, prisons and with disadvantaged children and young people throughout the UK.
Our core belief is that to pass on a good read – to give a book – is a transaction of worth. By working with schools, local communities, and partnering with other organisations, we facilitate the provision of books for a variety of projects.
‘There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island’ (Walt Disney)
Numerous studies show that poor reading skills are inextricably linked to economic disadvantage and reduced life possibilities. Give a Book aims to change this by working with others to inspire children to pick up a book and read for pleasure. We work directly with schools and specialised organisations, liaising with head teachers, literacy leads and librarians to provide the best selection of books for the schools. Good things happen with a book – it’s not just about reading and learning but about enhancing other skills such as confidence, communication and empathy.
We love working with schools who are proactive and keen on promoting reading in the school, especially in areas where reading may not be as high a priority at home.
Some examples of our school projects:
Whole School Library Project
One school we worked with last year was in one of the most deprived areas in North London where children started school at a much lower level compared to national data. More than half of the children who attend were on free school meals, which is more than double the national average. The children had little or no access to books at home. The local library had closed and the nearest bookshop was some distance away. The school had no library space and just a trolley or two of books.
Twelve months on, with the help of Give a Book, this school is now a reading school– with a regular Breakfast Book Club, lunchtime reading clubs, a Year group reading club, author visits, book sales and a wonderful, calm, relaxing, imaginative new library space.
“The former classroom is now unrecognisable. It is filled with hundreds of books for the children to choose from, as well as comfy spaces for them to sit and read. There is also a whiteboard for the children to leave feedback on the new space. Comments include: “it’s aspirational”, “I feel really optimistic” and “It makes me calm”.
“Children, parents and staff have all been really excited to come and see the new reading space and the fantastic range of books. We are absolutely delighted with our new library and incredibly grateful to Give a Book for making it happen.” (School Literacy lead)
“We are passionate about giving our children a great education and the evidence is clear that reading for pleasure is associated with better outcomes. The children are thrilled with the new library and so are we, and we’re looking forward to enjoying it for many years to come.” (Headteacher)
Breakfast Book Clubs
Our School Breakfast Book Clubs provide books for children to read with their breakfast. Since 2013, Breakfast Book clubs have been set up in over 30 primary schools in disadvantaged areas.
There is a continuing need, as there are growing numbers of pupils in areas where books and reading are not part of their everyday home life and the clubs fill a gap to encourage reading for pleasure. The primary schools we work with have a high proportion of pupils from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The Breakfast Book Clubs have been set up throughout the UK, ranging from Blackpool to Dorset. “It has been going well so far and is really making a difference to the children as many of the children do not have access to such amazing books at home..”
The schools or other organisations provide the food and we provide the books. We initially send the school a diverse selection of new books and include notebooks and pencils. The books belong to the school – they can decide whether to keep the books solely for the breakfast club or allow the children to take them home to enjoy with their parents. We refresh the books each term.
“It’s definitely having an impact on them. It’s often small steps of course but a lot of them say they hate reading, it’s boring etc and then I find them shuffling over and sneakily listening to me reading aloud.”
“These breakfast club books have offered a chance for us to highlight reading and signpost people to this opportunity.”
It’s all about giving children who wouldn’t otherwise have much access to books the opportunity to read them, to instil a love of reading.
The wonderful feedback we receive from all those involved in our projects encourages us to continue reaching out to new schools and partners. We believe that all children should have the opportunity to discover the pleasure of reading and continue to support projects which enable this.
The schools that we usually work with are often in areas of high deprivation. These communities have been hard hit in this crisis period. With schools and libraries closed to most pupils for months, there have been difficulties with access to learning support, often households with little or no books in the house, issues with food shortages, lack of internet access, limited availability of IT equipment or resources having to be shared with others. Now schools are re-opening, there is a huge gap to be filled in terms of progress and learning. We hope to be able to work with our current and new schools to help address this imbalance and get more children reading!
You can find out more about the variety of projects we are involved with on our website http://giveabook.org.uk