Book Funding for Primary School Libraries

Spending on books is often an early casualty of difficult budget decisions. We look at options to help secure funding to update your stock.

The benefits of reading are well documented. Research carried out by the National Literacy Trust suggests that children and young people who:

  • read daily are four times more likely to read above the level expected for their age compared with their peers who don’t read daily,
  • have good reading skills are four times as likely to have good financial skills than their peers who have poor reading skills,
  • are the most engaged with literacy are three times more likely to have higher levels of mental wellbeing than children who are the least engaged.

Despite this, spending on books is often an early casualty of difficult budget decisions. Cressida Cowell’s recent primary school library initiative, Life-changing Libraries, supported by BookTrust, highlights the need to get good quality books into schools and into the hands of children. Six lucky schools will benefit from the initiative.

If you are feeling inspired to update your stock, we look at some options here to help secure the funding to do so.


Grants are specifically available to help schools spend money on books – it’s worth taking a look to see if your school is eligible to apply.

Foyle Foundation is an independent grant-making trust. It runs The Foyle School Library Scheme awarding grants of between £1k – £10k to state funded schools. They prioritise primary school library and reading books. A key point in their application is to demonstrate how you will maintain the library in the longer term.

The Siobhan Dowd Trust, works to give young people the opportunity to read and enjoy literature. It gives away up to £2000 each month to schools to spend on books at their local independent bookseller. Part of the aim of this project is to encourage the art of browsing and for young people to feel ownership about the books chosen for the school.

It is also worth considering approaching local businesses. Companies may have funds allocated for helping community projects such as school libraries.

Book Donations

Book Buddy is a simple scheme that helps to match book donors with schools looking to improve their book collections.

Puffin World of Stories invite a set number of schools to take part in their courses and research, in return for gifting hundreds of books. Register your interest to take part.

The Marcus Rashford Book Club is a programme to encourage and nurture a love of reading in children. Supported by Macmillan Children’s Books, titles will be donated to schools for children to take home. The focus is on book ownership rather than library collection development. Our own community book gifting scheme has a similar focus.

Fundraising Projects

Fundraising for your school library may also be an option.

  • Incorporate a book group into a breakfast/after school club, with the termly fees helping to pay for books.
  • Set up a stall at a summer fete, sports day or parents evening, inviting parents of year 6 pupils to buy a book to donate to the school as a leaving gift. Schools we have worked with have benefitted from an extra 50-60 books in their school as a result.
  • Ask that the PTA host some fundraising events for your school library.  Invite your local bookshop.


Another cost-effective way of keeping your books up-to-date is to subscribe to a service that provides bulk loans, such as our Education Resources Service which works in Essex, Southend, Thurrock, Hertfordshire and Suffolk.

Services like this operate across the UK offering subscriptions to borrow books and artefacts, plus support and advice to manage your library.

Finally, when spending your budget seek out booksellers that offer curated collections for your specific needs and put in place a way of managing your stock so that you build a collection that will earn its keep.

We hope this has inspired you with new ideas to fund your school library. If you do need help or have any questions, please get in contact. We would love to support you and our advice is always completely bespoke to your school.

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