National Literacy Trust and Shirehampton Primary, Bristol welcomed a very special visitor to mark the Coronation Libraries Project

Literacy and cultivating a joy of reading is a subject close to the new Queen’s heart, and in her first solo engagement since the Coronation, HM Queen Camilla visited Shirehampton Primary School in Bristol to open its new school library. This was the first in a series of 50 special primary school libraries to mark the 2023 Coronation.

The Coronation Libraries Project highlights the vital importance of primary school libraries in developing a lifelong love of reading, and the libraries are being created across the UK this year and next in collaboration with Primary School Library Alliance partners, including Bloomberg.

The reading spaces are being established in communities where children are least likely to have books at home. Many of these communities live in areas the Queen visited when she was Duchess of Cornwall and in her role as Patron of the National Literacy Trust. Each library or reading space is being refurbished, restocked and two members of staff will be trained to manage it and deliver a range of reading activities for the whole school. A commemorative plaque will also be placed in each library. 

Shirehampton Primary School’s new Coronation library is also the 500th library to be transformed as part of the Primary School Library Alliance campaign, a cross-sector collaboration addressing the issue of library provision in primary schools. On the day of the Queen’s visit, other attendees included representatives of National Literacy Trust, Penguin Random House, Arts Council England, Oxford University Press, Chase, Bloomberg and The Portal Trust.

National Literacy Trust's Coronation Libraries Project
HM Queen Camilla was welcomed to Shirehampton Primary School in Bristol to to see its new library. Photos: Jo Haycock / National Literacy Trust

For this special event, the Queen joined Shirehampton pupils, as well as pupil librarians and school librarians from 10 other schools involved in the PSLA library transformation programmes, for a ‘draw your dream library’ workshop led by National Literacy Trust’s Lucy Starbuck Braidley and with input from former Children’s Laureates Cressida Cowell and Malorie Blackman. The pupil librarians then accompanied The Queen to their new Coronation library, where Horrid Henry series author Francesca Simon and pupils were taking part in an interactive reading session.

The Queen was presented with the Coronation Collection – a selection of 23 books voted for by over 12,000 children across the UK in celebration of the Coronation – before unveiling a plaque to officially open the library space for current and future children to enjoy and develop a love of reading.

“Astonishingly, one in seven state primary schools does not have a library, says National Literacy Trust CEO Jonathan Douglas. “Spaces like these will have a transformative effect on these schools’ reading – for pleasure, culture and a positive, lifelong impact.” Former Children’s Laureate, Malorie Blackman says: “Libraries are places of inspiration, and our children deserve nothing less”.

National Literacy Trust

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