Reading books is one of the most important routes to academic success for children, yet 1 in 8 disadvantaged children don’t own a single book.
The real solution to the problem is for the government to fund education adequately so that schools can replenish their libraries. But in the meantime, it’s important for children to have a wide range of books to read.
So Maz set up Book Buddy. It’s a simple idea – book donors are matched with local schools that are short of books.
Of course, children can borrow books from the library. But many public libraries have closed in recent years so not everyone has access to a local well-stocked library.
As a children’s non-fiction author, I receive at least a couple of complimentary copies of my titles. I offer them to people who’ve helped me write the book, but often there are a couple of spares. I have a whole shelf full taking up space in my office cupboard. I thought Book Buddy was a great idea.
After the conference, I checked the Book Buddy website. There weren’t any schools nearby that needed what I had to offer, but I realised that every week I cycle past Moulsecoomb Primary School, which is in one of the most deprived areas of the country.
I volunteered at the school last year as a story-making mentor with Little Green Pig, a writing charity for children. We set up a space training centre in a portacabin and led the children on creative space adventures. It was a great project, the children were enthusiastic, and I could see how hard the teachers work to give the children a broad educational experience.
Now I’m an unofficial Book Buddy, dropping off books when I can. I’m decluttering my office and providing a valuable resource for school children at the same time.
If you have books to donate or work at a state school with a dire shortage of books, check out Book Buddy.