Listen and learn

Earlier this year, Kew Bookshop was faced with an uncertain future following a planning application to redevelop the site that would have seen the retail space double in size, which would have priced the bookshop out of the equation, as well as changing the unique aesthetic of the area.

The owners were overwhelmed by support from the local community of customers, retailers, members of the book trade, schools and local government, and the application was met with a resounding “no” from Richmond Council. We have come up with a way of giving back to the community, with the launch of the Achieving Through Reading Sponsorship Award.

State-funded primary schools from Richmond, Hammersmith & Fulham, Wandsworth, Ealing and Hounslow are being asked to nominate themselves to be in with a chance of receiving a year’s worth of literacy support. This will include a free book for every child on World Book Day 2015, a donation of £200 worth of quality new books, two free author/illustrator visits, and more.

Schools business is increasingly becoming a vital part of our income and we have developed a close relationship with many schools in these areas since introducing a dedicated Schools Team last summer. We became aware of a huge disparity in the resources available to children at school, and it has come as a surprise to us that even in the more affluent areas—such as Barnes, Kew and Sheen—there are distinct pockets of deprivation. It was from this realisation that the idea for the sponsorship arose.

We regularly see teachers trying to work miracles with minimal resources. Schools with such dedicated staff deserve as much help as possible in order to instill a love of books in children—the future customers of bookshops—and booksellers need to work hard to ensure literacy levels are maintained. We hope to award the sponsorship annually, and for this reason we have applied for the James Patterson grant to help with some of the costs, as the financial outlay to us would be quite substantial. We are excited about the scheme, and hope as many schools as possible hear about it and put themselves forward for consideration.

The deadline for nominations is 30th September. For more information, contact Anna at schoolskew@gmail.com or Isla Dawes at isladawes@gmail.co.uk