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Oxdfordshire Illustrator Inspires Reading For Pleasure

Local illustrator opens new library in Oxfordshire school to inspire reading for pleasure, supported by Oxford University Press and the National Literacy Trust as part of ‘Oxfordshire Raise a Reader Programme’.
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On Friday March 3rd, Ian Smith, local illustrator of the soon to be published The King’s Runaway Crown officially opened the new library at Bayards Hill Primary School in Headington.

Dressed as their favourite literary characters, Assistant Headteacher Paul Waite and children from the school, along with representatives from Oxford University Press (OUP) and the National Literacy Trust, gathered to mark the official ribbon cutting. The event was followed by a reading and drawing session with Cotswolds illustrator Ian Smith, which included a first look preview of his new coronation picture book The King’s Runaway Crown publishing next month.

As part of the ‘Oxfordshire Raise a Reader Programme’, Bayards Hill Primary School’s beautiful new library space is stocked with 500 books (300 books donated by OUP and 200 donated by independent publishers), as well as a range of soft furnishings and books storage. The school will receive ongoing in-person specialist training from Oxford University Press to help develop effective whole-school reading strategies as well as receiving a subscription to Oxford Reading Buddy, a digital reading service of nearly 500 books, and the opportunity to host exciting author visits.

Bayards Hill Primary School is one of ten new reading spaces opening across Oxfordshire schools this spring-term as part of OUP’s comprehensive three-year Raise a Reader campaign – launched in collaboration with the National Literacy Trust, which saw OUP join the Primary School Library Alliance as a flagship partner, to help provide children and young people with the tools and opportunities to become lifelong readers in the wake of the pandemic.

Caroline Derby, Head of Early Literacy and Phonics at Oxford University Press, commented: “At Oxford Children’s we know what a huge difference reading and literacy in early years can have later in life, which is why we are so proud to continue our mission to help raise readers. When we launched the campaign, we pledged to make a tangible impact where it was needed most in our local community, and we are delighted to see the first ten reading spaces set up in Oxfordshire schools on Friday. It is our hope that these spaces will provide a safe and pleasurable environment for children to engage with books and sow the seeds of a love of reading for life.”

Paul Waite, Assistant Headteacher at Bayards Hill Primary School, said: “We are very, very excited about our newly stocked and refurbished Bayards Hill Library, emphasising our commitment to the importance of reading in our school. We strive to develop a passion for reading in all our pupils, opening up a world of adventures, and complementing our very strong, broad and balanced curriculum and best practice personal development offering. We are also very grateful to all the volunteers involved in supporting our project, as we continue to develop partnerships – for example Oxford University Press, the National Literacy Trust, and the Access Team at St John’s College, along with one of our BHPS governors, Catherine Kneafsey.”

Jonathan Douglas, Chief Executive of the National Literacy Trust, added: “When families across the country may be struggling to afford books at home, a school library can be a child’s only access to books and the joy of reading. School libraries can help fuel a child’s imagination, inspire creativity, and give them the literacy skills they need to succeed in life. We are delighted to have worked with Oxford University Press to get ten wonderful new reading spaces into primary schools in Oxfordshire”.

Raise a Reader was inspired by the expert insights gained from OUP’s highly regarded research into the word gap and informed by newly commissioned consumer and educator research exploring the barriers to becoming a life-long reader. This campaign will bring schools, booksellers, local communities, parents, librarians, literacy partners and reading experts together to unite in a shared mission to raise readers.

The ‘Oxfordshire Raise a Reader Schools Programme’ will champion reading across 10 Oxfordshire schools in the first year with the goal of raising a generation of readers in schools and families in Oxfordshire’s most disadvantaged and under-served communities.

Images courtesy of Richard Cave Photography

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