Creating “Gold Standard” Primary School Libraries

Reading for Pleasure makes a difference

It’s hard to overstate the argument – reading for pleasure does make a difference.

Not only is the habit of reading for pleasure more important for children’s educational success than their family’s socio-economic background, but research also suggests that it supports mental health and well-being (reading_for_pleasure.pdf –

In her open letter to the prime minister Children’s Laureate, Cressida Cowell argues that primary school libraries are essential to creating a reading for pleasure culture. Yet, one in eight primary schools don’t have a library, and there is no statutory requirement for them to do so.

Disadvantaged children need access to books

Even more worrying, schools with a higher proportion of children on free school meals are even less likely to have a library.

Our recent National Dataset Report – The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on primary school children’s learning showed that by summer 2020, disadvantaged pupils were less likely than their peers to meet age-related expectations for reading (43% compared to 63% in non-disadvantaged groups), making their access to the opportunities that a well-stocked library can bring essential.

Cressida’s project “Life-changing Libraries”, supported by Booktrust, will initially help eight schools with a high number of disadvantaged children to create “gold standard” libraries focussing on books, expertise, and space.

The gold-standard library

Our top tips for a “gold-standard” primary school library:

  • Access to a librarian or the expertise of an education resource or school library service for advice on all aspects of library management and organisation, reader engagement and resources.
  • A curated collection of books that reflects the diverse backgrounds, interests, and abilities of your school community and ensures that every child feels they have reading choices. This will include fiction and non-fiction, different formats and media.
  • A collection that’s replenished and edited regularly.
  • A dedicated space that’s welcoming, appealing and safe.
  • Reading engagement activities – author visits, book clubs, book awards, book champions and role models – that place the library at the centre of the school.
  • A collection that is organised and stocked to encourage independent enquiry

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