Support for Book Campaign to Encourage Young Readers

Businesses to Boost Book Reading
Encouraging Young Readers…

Businesses across Nottingham are being encouraged to support a project to give free books to under-5s across the City, setting them on the best path to future employment and economic success.

The Big Reading Challenge aims to raise funds for free books for children, delivered through the Imagination Library charity.

This year, given the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on children’s learning and wellbeing, the project is even more vital. A recent survey about children’s experiences during the 20/21 academic year, delivered in partnership with Nottingham City Council’s Educational Psychology service, highlighted the need to focus on children’s emotional health and wellbeing as well as the enjoyment of, and motivation for, life-long learning. Reading and literacy supports this.

The Imagination Library ensures that every child receives a free book every month to ignite the joy of reading and learning, to give them the best start to their education. The project is 100 per cent funded by charitable donations, and just £125 will means that one local child will receive a new book every month until they are five.

2021 is the 10th anniversary of the City Council helping to co-ordinate the Imagination Library scheme in Nottingham. During that time over 347,000 free books have been delivered to children in 10 key areas of the city, which require the most assistance.

The Leader of Nottingham City Council, Cllr David Mellen, who has been involved with the initiative since 2011 following the Council’s ‘Year of Reading’, comments: “As a former head teacher, I know how books and reading with children can improve literacy. There are currently more than 5,600 Nottingham children registered with the Imagination Library scheme, but we want to do more.

“Our ambition is for every child in Nottingham to get a free book every month. We need to raise funds to make this happen. We’re asking for support to help ensure Nottingham’s children get the best start in life.”

As part of the Big Reading Challenge campaign, a breakfast event for businesses is being held at Nottingham Council House on Wednesday 24 November (from 8.15am to 9.30am).

The team is also speaking at various business networking events across the city to explain how the initiative works. Businesses can sponsor a Nottingham child starting from £25:

• £25 pays for a new book every month for one local child for one year
• £125 pays for a new book every month for one local child from birth to age five
• £500 pays for four local children to go through the Imagination library scheme

If you would like to donate to this the project, visit

Cllr Mellen added: “This scheme not only ignites a love of reading; it is proven to improve the literacy skills of our City’s children, getting them ready for school, helping them achieve more in their journeys through education and, in turn, be more successful in their working lives. Reading with children is one of the best ways to set them up for a bright future.”

For further information about the initiative or to attend the Big Reading Challenge Business Breakfast event, contact

For further press information, contact Kathryn Greenwood at Eden PR on 0115 958 8850 / 07976 635609 /

Notes to Editors

About Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library
In 1995, Dolly Parton launched the Imagination Library in Sevier County, Tennessee. Her vision was to get children to fall in love with reading by giving them a specially selected free book each month from birth until their fifth birthday. By 2000, the scheme was so popular it was rolled out to different communities across the US.

The Nottingham story
The vision of the Imagination Library was first sparked in Nottingham in 2009 by Cheryl Mitchell, a Teaching Assistant at Fernwood Infant School, Wollaton. Cheryl campaigned to raise funds and encouraged people to support the charity.
Momentum gathered when the Rotary Club of Nottingham worked with Nottingham City Council to help to co-ordinate fundraising; enabling the Imagination Library to be set up in the Nottingham neighbourhood of Bilborough. Nottingham City Council’s Children’s Centres were enrolled to administer the scheme and Health Visitors promoted the scheme to parents.
The scheme was then expanded to Hyson Green, Radford and Dunkirk and Lenton, thanks to major funding from Castle Cavendish – a regeneration charity which aims to improve the quality of life for people in Nottingham.
In 2014, Nottingham won a National Lottery bid to support more young children. Headed by Nottingham CityCare partnership, Small Steps Big Changes (SSBC) is a £45m programme of activities and initiatives to give Nottingham’s 0–3-year-olds a better start in life.
The scheme is now running successfully in ten of the city’s 20 wards.