Children across England can access free books during school closures with the launch of a virtual library.
Internet classroom Oak National Academy launched the online library after schools moved to remote learning for the vast majority of students until February half-term. The scheme was formed in partnership with The National Literacy Trust, and the library will provide a free eBook each week from a different author.
The project aims to increase access to audiobooks and eBooks for young children across the UK—particularly the most disadvantaged kids
Oak National Academy is funded by the Department for Education and has provided more than 28 million lessons since the start of the school term on January 4, with over 4.1 million pupils accessing its resources in the last two weeks.
Matt Hood, principal of Oak National Academy, said: “It’s incredible to be able to add to our offer something vital for children’s literacy and their mental wellbeing.”
Jonathan Douglas, chief executive of the National Literacy Trust, said it was “essential” to enable as many children as possible to “access a world of great literature”. He added: “Many children’s literacy skills were profoundly affected by the first lockdown and school closures.
“We will do everything in our power to support children, families and teachers during this new lockdown period.”
Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson has described the Oak National Academy’s virtual library as “fantastic resource”, and wants children’s learning and development to continue while schools remain closed.
He added: “Reading is hugely beneficial not only for children’s literacy skills, but also their mental health and wellbeing.”
The Oak National Academy’s website states that “having access to a school library is really important for children. School libraries nurture a love of reading that can enrich children’s literacy skills, academic achievements and mental wellbeing.”
They have worked with a wide range of publishers, inspiring authors and illustrators to ensure that the books and activities in the virtual library will support children’s wellbeing through reading.
The first book to feature will be Dame Jacqueline Wilson’s The Story Of Tracy Beaker which is available to access free for a week from 17 January.
Dame Jacqueline said with schools closed, the free online library is needed more than ever, adding: “I think it’s vitally important that every child should have an opportunity to access books.”