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The Virtual School Library

18 January 2021 Share

Much-loved children’s authors are offering free electronic copies of their work on weekly basis.

Online classroom platform Oak National Academy is launching a new partnership  with the National Literacy Trust to provide free access to books for children across the UK in this third national lockdown.

The Virtual School Library will host free reading and writing content from children’s authors, providing a free-to-access book every week from the platform’s author of the week.

Dame Jacqueline Wilson's The Story of Tracy Beaker, illustrated by Nick Sharratt, is the first book to feature and will be free to access and read from 18th Jan for a week. Other titles include: 

  • Hope Jones Saves the World written by Josh Lacey and illustrated by Beatriz Castro, which tackles environmental issues.
  • Cookie and the Most Annoying Boy in the World by Konnie Huq, which explores a girl’s passion for science.

The initiative aims to increase access to e-books and audiobooks for the most disadvantaged young readers during school closures and support the literacy of children most affected by Covid-19. 

Research by The National Literacy Trust during the initial school closures in 2020 found that:

  • Almost one in two children (46.3%) said that they had read new books during lockdown
  • One in seven (14.1%) had re-read books they have at home
  • Many children’s literacy skills were profoundly affected by the first lockdown and school closures

A love of reading starts with access to books and reading is hugely beneficial not only for children’s literacy skills, but also their mental health and wellbeing.  

Many teachers have asked about access to online books, or reading aloud during lockdown. While this Virtual Library won't replace a complete e-book platform in schools where schools can choose their own bookstock, it does help schools who do not currently have this set up. The authors and publishers giving copyright permission for all this do so to support that love of reading, inspite of losing income themselves during the pandemic.

E-book platforms available to schools can be found on the SLA website by searching for "E-book platforms".

You can visit the Virtual School Library here.