The day we met Queen Camilla

QUEEN Camilla’s first solo engagement since the Coronation was in Bristol – and some children from two local schools were lucky enough to share it.

The Queen is patron of the National Literacy Trust, which has been spearheading a campaign to improve primary school libraries in recognition of the role they can play in fostering a lifelong love of reading.

The Primary School Library Alliance campaign will include 50 Coronation libraries at schools around the country, the first of which is at Shirehampton Primary in north Bristol.

Children and staff from ten schools in the West, including Avonmouth Primary, were invited to visit Shirehampton for a celebration event with leading authors and illustrators.

It was only after they arrived that the pupils, librarians and teachers learned that the Queen was also attending.

The day involved a “draw your dream library’ workshop alongside two former Children’s Laureates, How to Train Your Dragon author Cressida Cowell and Noughts and Crosses author Malorie Blackman.  This was followed by reading sessions with Francesca Simon, who wrote the Horrid Henry series, and contributions from illustrators Chris Smith and Rob Biddulph and author Jasbinder Bilal.

Shirehampton’s pupil librarians showed Her Majesty their new library, which has been enriched by more than 400 new titles. Queen Camilla was then presented with the Coronation Collection – a selection of 23 books voted for by over 12,000 children across the UK. One of the aims of the Primary School Library Alliance is to improve access to age-appropriate and diverse books. It also wants to create inspirational reading spaces and train more staff to deliver reading activities. 

National Literacy Trust CEO, Jonathan Douglas said: “Astonishingly, 1 in 7 state primary schools does not have a library so we are very proud to be working with our partners and helping to enhance 1,000 reading spaces in primary schools across the UK. It has been fantastic  to  launch the Coronation Libraries project and to mark such an important milestone for the Primary School Library Alliance.” 

Former Children’s Laureate should be the right of every child to have access to well-stocked, local and regularly replenished public and school libraries.braries are places of inspiration and our children deserve nothing less.” 

Shirehampton’s headteacher Louisa Munton said: “The library will harness our children’s  enthusiasm for reading even more, help them to continue to see the pleasure books bring, and enable them to secure better outcomes in reading. It will support our ongoing commitment to providing rich reading experiences for all of our children, some of whom have limited access to books outside of the school environment.” 

“To see, first hand, the passion the Her Majesty Queen Camilla has for reading, and share with her the difference our new library will make to the school community was a privilege.”