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New book awards and fund launched for Richmond and Kingston children

Release Date: 16 November 2020

A new primary school children’s book awards scheme has been launched in Richmond and Kingston, alongside a new fund that aims to raise money to help buy books for children from low income families.

Coombe Hill Junior School headteacher, Mark Clutterbuck, teamed up with Debbie Thomas, a Lead School Improvement Adviser for English from Achieving for Children, to launch an awards programme that will help promote reading and writing.

Over 50 books have already been submitted for each of the three categories (books for children aged four to seven, seven to nine and nine to eleven). Authors can still submit their books to be considered.

A team of judges, which include teachers, librarians and local book sellers, will then shortlist the books to a list of four in each category. Children from the schools that have signed up to the scheme will then be invited to read the books next spring and vote on their favourite. Parents are asked to check that their primary school has signed up, and if not contact the Spark! team.

The winners will be announced in May.

At the same time, the new Spark! team have launched an online fundraiser to ensure that those children from low income families can also participate and have access to the books. Residents are invited to support the scheme and donate online

Cllr Penny Frost, Chair of the Children’s and Schools Committee for Richmond Council, said:

“Across both boroughs there are over 35,000 children who can benefit from this project. For many young people, reading provided a vital escape during lockdown. We want to harness that enthusiasm, whilst recognising high quality contemporary authors.

“It is also important to remember that some children and young people do not have the money to buy their own books, therefore I welcome the new fund that Spark! have created that will ensure that this exciting programme is accessible to all.”

Mark Clutterbuck, said:

“I planned to start this last March and then Covid stopped everything. But soon I realised that, above all at this time, pupils need exciting stories and a sense of community. By bringing together so many schools in a massive reading event, we can offer them both.  In the end, I decided that now was actually the very best time for such a project.”

Debbie Thomas added:

“There are so many great new books being published all the time. However, because teachers, parents and pupils do not always get the chance to find out about them, we want the Spark! Awards to bring everyone together, so families and teachers can all discover some great new writing.”

The project is being supported by Achieving for Children, which runs education in the two boroughs as well as the library services and local bookshops. 

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Notes for editors

If you are a journalist and would like further information about this press release, contact Elinor Firth on 020 8487 5159.

Reference: P452/20

Updated: 01 September 2021