A Tower Hamlets Librarian talks to us about working with Give a Book

Lucy Chambers, BA Hons, MInfSci, MCLIP talks to Give a Book

I am a school librarian for Tower Hamlets Schools Library Services. I am in a team of professional librarians and currently run four primary school libraries around the borough, spending 3.5 hours to 7 hours a week in each. All my school libraries are at different stages, which makes my job very interesting and varied. No two days are the same. I set up the libraries from scratch at two of my current schools (and three schools where I worked for a couple of years), restocked one library and am developing another. I have been a school librarian for about 20 years now and it is a wonderful role to have: there is a high level of social deprivation in Tower Hamlets but children enjoy a wide variety of books, both fiction and information books, and make huge progress in their years at primary school. I run many projects to develop children’s love of reading for pleasure and empowerment, from shadowing national and local book awards, to inviting authors into the school, from creative writing competitions to working on library magazines, from celebrating National Poetry Day to planning activities for World Book Day.

Give A Book has contributed to many projects in my schools, enabling me to buy new series of popular books, graphic novels (always popular), books from book award shortlists and more.

With recent grants for Globe Primary School I bought children’s magazines for all classes last year and am able now to renew the subscription this year. The children voted for their favourite titles; each class has two subscriptions. This is fantastic for broadening the range of what they read. Many families cannot afford magazines or even a wide variety of books.

Getting a grant

In March every year, Globe Primary School holds a Book Month with visiting authors, competitions, a cross-school spelling challenge, special assemblies, book buddying and creative writing. Children in every class, from Nursery (they dictate stories to staff), to Year 6 create books in different styles. Some of the best stories are collected and self-published. Last year, the school did not have the money to produce more than a few copies of this book. This year however they will be able to produce far more copies, thanks to a grant from Give A Book that covers the printing costs. Children love looking through Globe’s Little Book of Stories every year to see what their peers or siblings wrote, say, in Reception Class a few years ago.

Give A Book has also kindly given grants to Columbia Primary School, for graphic novels, puzzle books and cartoon books, all very popular in this large school, and Woolmore Primary School towards books in their new library.

I have also established three Magic Breakfast Book Clubs in my schools, thanks to grants from Give A Book. In John Scurr Primary, the Magic Breakfast Book Club launch enabled children to independently choose and borrow books to share with their families, a first for this school at the time as it did not have a library. I subsequently set up a small library there, with help from a further Give A Book grant.

Families share books at The Magic Breakfast Book Club in Globe Primary, which is fantastic. They can spend twenty minutes a day reading with their children and enjoying a healthy breakfast together.