It is based on a model imported from the USA known as ‘Reading is Fundamental’, where children in poorer areas are given books to keep, to encourage them to read and try to end the cycle of illiteracy which tends to run in families. It is a response to studies which indicate that literacy is a key factor in the lifelong outcomes of a child from education and job prospects to health issues.
The project aims to reach not just children who can’t read or have low reading levels, but also those who may not have had to the opportunity to own a book before, or are reluctant to read. This scheme can be run from schools or in library settings and here, in Queen’s Park Library, we run it in conjunction with the local primary schools. This is a natural partnership as the children can continue to gain access to free reading materials at the conclusion of their project by becoming members of the library.
This year the NYRP scheme celebrated its 15th birthday and we celebrated the scheme in style! Over the course of the last academic year, as part of the NYRP project here at Queen’s Park Library we saw 300 children from 10 classes, a total of 3 times each, handed out 900 FREE books selected by the children themselves and served 1000’s of slices of cakes and cookies! We worked with teachers and literacy co-ordinators from Wilberforce, Queen’s Park and St. Luke’s primary schools where teachers had sessions in the classroom getting the children to research and select their books before their visit.
The project included Year 6 and Year 1 / 2 pupils, paired up in a “buddy reading” scheme, where they would read to each other. The children had sessions at the library that included learning how to select a book, making an origami bookmark and a birthday party with book themed games. Refreshments were kindly provided by Starbucks who also fund the NLT in running the scheme and provided us with a volunteer at some of the events.
During their last session the children made giant birthday cards to say “thank you” to the NLT. They were made from a collage of discarded old library books, which they all signed.
The scheme was a huge success and the children and staff on both sides all thoroughly enjoyed their sessions and their books. But it also had more important impacts on the children, from shy and unconfident readers blossoming not just in their reading but in their behaviour, and reluctant readers becoming excited at the prospect of their next book and visiting the library after school.
Here are some of the comments the children wrote in the cards:
“Thank you for picking our school, I can’t stop reading because of how funny and brilliant the books that I chose. And I also want to thank you of how this is free, please carry on this project so people can experience how we feel.”
“Thank you for the free book. It is really fantastic. I want to buy the other number 2 book I want to know what happens next. So I hope you carry on buying books for children.”
“Thank for all the books I really appreciate and the books are really good”
“This library has always helped me when I need it.”