Libraries for Primaries

1 in 7 primary schools in England do not have a library, and this rises to 1 in 4 schools in our most disadvantaged communities.

It’s a legal requirement to have a library in a prison – rightly so – but not in a school. This postcode lottery means that thousands of children are missing out.

Why does this matter?

Reading for pleasure can have a profound impact on young people’s future life chances. It has the power to boost social mobility and mitigate socio-economic inequalities such as low family income.

Children who read are more likely to do better at school, to be happier, healthier, and experience better mental wellbeing and self-esteem. They are also more likely to develop empathy and creativity.

And yet reading for pleasure is in steep decline. Just 43% of children and young people say they enjoy reading in 2023, the lowest level since records began over two decades ago.

“I would just like to say wow! We cannot thank you all at World of Stories enough. Our six boxes arrived today and I can’t put into words the excitement of the children who helped me begin to unpack the books. I haven’t seen the children this excited about visiting our library for a long time.”

Teacher, 2023-24 cohort

What are we doing?

Since 2018 Penguin has been working alongside the National Literacy Trust charity to support schools to transform their libraries through our World of Stories programme. It offers participating schools, for free, a collection of 400 books from our children’s publisher Puffin, and a selection of 100 books from independent publisher partners.

Most importantly, it also offers training for teachers to help embed a culture of reading for pleasure in their schools.

Picture copyright Tom Banks 2023

“I feel happy to go in the library because I get to read books and learn about things.”

Pupil, 2022-23 cohort

Campaigning for every school to have a library

Working with schools and learning more about the challenges they face made us realise that we couldn’t tackle this issue alone.

That’s why we co-founded Libraries for Primaries - a campaign which aims to make sure that every primary school in the UK has a library. This includes making the case for additional investment from government, and bringing together other publishers, businesses and public sector bodies like Arts Council England to expand our library transformation model to reach schools across the country.

Together we are on track to transform 1,000 school libraries across England by the end of 2024.

Primary school children reading books in their library

Libraries for Primaries impact

Transforming a school library into a hub of imagination

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