The Reading Agency’s Reading Sparks programme to gift book bags to families experiencing hardship this summer

The Reading Agency is working with libraries, publishers and the Science and Technology Facilities Council to deliver STEM theme gift bags to low-income families across the UK this summer.

  • The Reading Agency is working with libraries, publishers and the Science and Technology Facilities Council to deliver STEM theme gift bags to low-income families across the UK this summer
  • Publishers have gifted children’s science titles by Serena Patel, Roger McGough and Vivian French among others1
  • The Science and Technology Facilities Council has gifted “Unmasked: The Science of Superheroes” co-authored by seven practising scientists and funded the co-ordination of the gift as part of the Reading Sparks programme
  • 17 library services across England, the Channel Islands and Northern Ireland will distribute the gift bags

The Reading Agency is coordinating gift bags that will be distributed to children and families across the UK by library services this summer. The gift bags include fantastic books for children of all ages with a STEM theme and STEM activities for families to complete over the summer.

This gift is part of The Reading Agency‘s new Reading Sparks programme, a new project to engage children and families with science through reading from The Reading Agency in partnership with libraries, the British Science Association, the Science and Technology Facilities Council(STFC) and NUSTEM.

We have received funding from Arts Council England and the STFC to work with 11 library services across England to harness the proven power of reading to engage families with STEM and bridge the gap in science capital for families from lower socio-economic groups, teenage girls and BAME communities. The project will run from 2021-23.

Library services will gift the packs via a variety of partners and engagement activities, including food banks, Early Help and Troubled Families teams, refugee support schemes and via Holiday Activities and Food programmes they are running in their local areas.

We have also put together a book list, using a selection of the gifted titles, to get children and families reading and sharing STEM ideas and activities this summer:

Participating publishers are:

The participating library services are:

  • Barnsley Libraries
  • Coventry Libraries
  • Derbyshire County Council
  • Halton Libraries
  • Libraries Unlimited
  • Portsmouth Libraries
  • London Borough of Hillingdon Libraries
  • Hull Libraries
  • Islington Library and Heritage Service
  • Jersey Libraries
  • Libraries NI
  • Manchester Libraries
  • Newcastle Library Service
  • Newham Libraries
  • Oldham Libraries
  • Staffordshire Libraries and Arts Service
  • Suffolk Libraries
  • Swindon Libraries

Karen Napier, CEO, 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 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.

Jenni Chambers, Head of Public Engagement and Skills, 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.”

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. 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.”

The Reading Agency

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