Sunday, 11 February 2018

#BookBuddy

Every now and again, something happens on Twitter that it is good to be a part of - that happened a week or so ago.

Following some school visits last year I decided to create a surprise monthly book box to send up to my old Primary school in Sheffield to add a few new books to their library each month. The kids were so enthusiastic about reading, and I could tell that they loved their books, that I wanted to help get new books for them to read. I used to love my school library but remember the disappointment when I was seeing the same old books over and over. 

I decided to start sending a monthly surprise book box - I would send 4 or 5 books a month, suitable for varying ages, and I had such fun selecting them and reading them. Some were from well known traditional authors such as Enid Blyton and Jacqueline Wilson and others were from the newer authors that are now making a name for themselves, it was fun to think that maybe I was helping introduce new authors to kids who may become long term readers. Over the last 6 months I have added over 30 books to their library and that makes me very happy.

I would have loved for this book box idea to become a 'thing' that others would do too, but where to start?

So, how delighted was I when one of my twitter friends, the wonderful author of 'Who Let The Gods Out', Maz Evans,suddenly was everywhere on twitter organising #BookBuddy. The idea seemed to sky-rocket within a very short space of time. The idea was that people who have suitable books sitting on their shelves at home could donate them to schools who, through budget cuts, were finding funding was not available for new stock for their libraries. You get a good feeling from having a clear-out and the school benefits from new books for the kids to read - it's a win-win. You could have books that your kids have read and grown out of but they are still sitting on the shelves - still in good condition but no longer being read, you could be a children's book reviewer with copies that are gathering dust or you could be like me, someone who reads MG books for fun and needs to do something with them afterwards.

They can be posted to the schools or delivered, or even collected. Anything that gets spare books from a to b. I know Maz Evans is a really busy lady, she does lots of school visits, book festivals and yet she somehow found time to be matching schools with book donors as they made themselves known on twitter.

A week on and this idea has become more formalised by way of a website
 Bookbuddy.org.uk

Here's part of the opening webpage:

Welcome to BookBuddy, the site that helps children to make friends with books. My name is Maz Evans and as a children’s author, I have the great privilege of visiting lots of schools all around the UK. The passion and enthusiasm of our educators and their students never fails to inspire me and I’m delighted to see how much love there is for reading in schools across the country.

But what I see worries me too. Schools’ budgets are under unprecedented pressure, meaning that many schools are struggling to afford basic teaching materials – including books. Many schools are having to rely on the generosity of their staff, or PTAs (if they are lucky enough to have one) to provide their children with reading books.
Schools can register their interest in receiving a donation of books and donors can be matched up with them. At the moment there are a growing number of schools and so now there is a big need for book donors to buddy up.

If you feel you can help here, whether it is a few books from a bit of a clear out, or like me, someone who reads and wants to then pass them on (basically I have book-sized padded envelopes and when I finish a book I post it off to the school) or you may be a children's author with some spare copies that can be donated, maybe even a bookshop that has redundant stock taking up valuable space - everyone is welcome to get involved.

These books are going into a school library, kids will get huge enjoyment from them so, please visit the BookBuddy website if you feel you can help by becoming a book donor - whether as a one-off donation or on an ongoing basis.

It's not a long-term fix to the funding problem, but it is a short-term solution, which has to be a  good thing.



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