At Spark! we want to build excitement and enjoyment in reading in all schools. We believe that children should have access to a wide range of quality literature that both engages them and represents all readers from across our diverse communities. Above all else, we believe in the life-changing power of stories.
Our aim is to appeal to every child and not just those who are already enthusiastic readers (of which there are many in our schools). We are determined to reach those pupils who do not always have access to new exciting books, as well as those who feel less engaged and cannot see themselves or their lives represented in the books available.
Ultimately, we want all children to develop a lasting love of reading.
Through giving children the power to choose the winner of their own awards, and hosting competitions for schools, we have been able to develop a buzz of excitement and greater talk about new books.
Our online Q&A sessions with authors and illustrators ensure that all children have the chance to meet and talk to the very people who created their favourite books. These sessions help bring the texts to life and build the confidence in our children to see themselves as writers and the ambition that they might one day do the same.
We recognise that schools and families cannot always afford new books. Through out link with the Regency Bookshop in Surbiton, we have been able to offer books at discounted prices and, through donations made to the Spark! Book Fund, put books in the hands of children who may not have access to them, as nominated by their teachers.
We were founded in 2020, in the middle of a pandemic, by a small independent team supported by Coombe Hill Junior School and Achieving for Children. Hugely encouraged by the enthusiasm, hard work and support of local teachers, librarians and other professionals for this initiative, we have seen that demand for such an initiative is huge and as we continue to grow, we look to involve more and more schools in our vision.
In 2022, we achieved charitable status and also formed a partnership with The Open University, who share in our vision - to provide a gateway to some great book choices for children and ensure access to books for all. This new partnership gave us a fantastic opportunity to further develop the work of both organisations and will, in due course, enable Spark! schools to also benefit from OU’s expertise in promoting the reading for pleasure agenda across the country.
"We have participated in other book awards in the past, but these awards have been especially exciting, engaging and inspiring for the girls – particularly as the whole school could get involved."
REBECCA ROUILLARD, HOLY CROSS PREPARATORY SCHOOL