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Gill Heath Stafford Library
Cabinet member Gill Heath, pictured at Stafford Library, has welcomed the latest applications.

National support for innovative library scheme helping children

Young children are to get a helping hand at their local library with national recognition for a pioneering project.

The Arts Council England has awarded Staffordshire County Council’s library service £52,300 to deliver the scheme at Burton library.

Ready Steady Library will encourage literacy and a love of reading among under-fives, as part of the county council’s work to increase the number of children classed as ‘school ready’ – that is having the abilities and social skills necessary to be able to succeed at school.

Gill Heath, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member responsible for libraries, said:

“We are delighted that the successful bid to the Arts Council England’s ‘Libraries Opportunities for Everyone Innovation Fund’ will allow us to help young families in Burton.

“The county council has already done a great deal of work to raise the number of children who are classed as ‘school ready’ in East Staffordshire from 48 per cent to 70 per cent in three years, but clearly we want that figure to be even higher.

“This innovative project will enable our library service to work with communities to develop and strengthen a range of services for under-fives so that when they arrive at school they’re ready to take advantage of the first class education on offer.”

Ready Steady Library will use different methods to encourage children to use traditional and electronic books for reading at home, as well as in the library, and encourage family members to share the reading experience.

Children will be encouraged to develop their communication, language, literacy and numeracy skills, grow personal, social and emotional development and understand the world around them, as well as starting to express themselves through art.

As well as encouraging children, library staff and volunteers will also help family members brush up on their IT skills where necessary to access online resources and stories on tablets.

Making the award, Peter Knott, Area Director, Arts Council England said:

“By creating Ready Steady Library, a project for families with young children who may not otherwise use a library or the services it provides, Staffordshire County Council is bringing the project to the heart of the local community and it will be great to see the benefits that this has for children starting school.”