Struggling families will be given free book bags this summer

free book bags
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Hundreds of struggling families will be given free book bags this summer, thanks to the Reading Sparks programme

Reading Sparks is a joint initiative between the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and The Reading Agency.

Working with 17 libraries across the UK, the free books scheme will run until 2023 and 1,000 book bags will be distributed in the coming months to families who are experiencing hardship.

The programme aims to use reading as a tool to engage families in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

Jenni Chambers, Head of Public Engagement and Skills at STFC, said: “We are delighted that, through our partnership with The Reading Agency, we have been able to help provide an interesting and diverse range of STEM materials to be distributed through libraries to families facing hardship.

“At STFC, we know that science and technology is exciting and inspiring. These subjects can lead young people from any background towards rewarding opportunities in education and work. We hope young people, as well as their families and carers, will enjoy these materials and their visit to their vibrant and vital local libraries.”

STEM books

Karen Napier, CEO of The Reading Agency said: “Our exciting new Reading Sparks programme is demonstrating the role that reading can play in sparking science engagement across the country, especially in areas with low science capital. This year children and families need support over the summer holidays more than ever. We are delighted to be working with libraries, publishers and STFC to be giving high quality STEM books and resources to families experiencing hardship.

“This gift forms part of our commitment to supporting the COVID-19 recovery for those in greatest need and supporting learning and aspiration across all communities, but it wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of publishers, the support of library services across the country and of our funders Arts Council England and STFC.”

Sue Williamson, Director, Libraries at Arts Council England said: “Arts Council England is proud to support The Reading Agency and the Reading Sparks programme which is helping young people who have been severely affected by the pandemic, reaching into some of the most deprived areas across the UK.

“Library services are the heart of the community and are fundamental in supporting people through the recovery from COVID-19. We’re delighted that library services will be working with The Reading Agency, gifting the packs via a variety of partners, including food banks, Early Help and Troubled Families teams, refugee support schemes and through Holiday Activities.”


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