UCS charity book drive hits top speed

UCS is teaming up with the Children’s Book Project for a second successive year to help give better access to books to children across London.

The school’s AKO Centre library is running a week-long book drive, between 16th and 20th January, and inviting donations of second-hand books which will assist in overcoming the access barriers faced by many families.

The library is collecting books which UCS pupils have outgrown in order that these find new homes with disadvantaged children around the capital. Books are received, cleaned and sorted by the Children’s Book Project and then redistributed via selected schools and teachers to children from ‘book poor’ homes. Library staff are already busy boxing pre-loved books which have been so generously donated by UCS pupils and their parents.

The school’s Head of Library, Penelope Davison, said of the initiative: “Supporting the Children’s Book Project gives the UCS community the opportunity to support children growing up without the benefit of books at home. Giving a child a book of their own doesn’t simply encourage them to read but can improve both their educational outcomes and their mental health. We’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of pupils and parents and we’d like to thank them all for supporting this collection.”

As with 2022’s collection, the aim is to gather as many books as possible for children aged up to 12, with the only caveat being that the library cannot accept: torn, scribbled or dirty books; textbooks or revision books; religious texts; encyclopaedias; DVDs or CDs; ex-library books or ex-reading schemes.

Throughout London and the UK, one in four disadvantaged children owns fewer than ten books, while one in eight has no books at all. This has an impact not just on children’s academic outcomes but also on their wellbeing, emotional development and sense of themselves as readers.

Thomas Underwood, Assistant Head (Academic), added: “We see literacy not only as a critical component of education but also as a fundamental life skill that gives people access to knowledge, better communication and fuller participation in society. I am delighted that we are able to help again with the Children’s Book Project and would like to thank all of our community for such support and generosity.”

The Children’s Book Project directly tackles any ‘book gap’ in young people’s lives and gifts donated books to targeted communities. Schools and community groups hold celebratory book gifting events at which children are invited to choose a book to take home and keep. The charity expects to give away over 70,000 books during 2023. For more information visit childrensbookproject.co.uk.

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