Children across the UK are able to access free books online amid school closures due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
As the country endures a third national lockdown it can be a challenging time for parents and children alike as they try to keep on top of their education.
Oak National Academy, a government-backed virtual school, has launched a virtual library which will allow students to read books from popular kid’s authors online during the latest lockdown. The library was formed with The National Literacy Trust.
The initiative aims to increase access to e-books and audiobooks for disadvantaged young readers during school closures, and to also support the literacy of children who have been most impacted by Covid-19.
Free to access books – and more
Children will be provided with a free-to-access book every week for the library’s author of the week.
The first book to be featured is Dame Jacqueline Wilson’s The Story Of Tracy Beaker, illustrated by Nick Sharratt, and is entirely free to read for a week from January 17.
As well as the free book, or audiobook, additional content will also be available each week, including exclusive videos, recommended reads and activities to keep children entertained at home.
Dame Wilson said: “I think it’s vitally important that every child should have an opportunity to access books. As most schools – and their libraries – are closed at the moment, the free online library is needed more than ever.”
‘Reading beneficial for mental health’
Gavin Williamson, Education Secretary, said: “While schools are closed for the majority of pupils, the learning and development of children must continue.
“Read is hugely beneficial not only for children’s literacy skills, but also their mental health and wellbeing.
“This virtual library is a fantastic resource for children to access a free book every week from a range of wonderful authors.”
Matt Hood, principal of Oak National Academy, said: “We know a love of reading starts with access to books. With millions of children learning with Oak National Academy over the first week of term, it’s incredible to be able to add to our offer something vital for children’s literacy and their mental wellbeing.”
Chief executive of the National Literacy Trust, Jonathan Douglas, added: “We are entering another extremely difficult time and Oak Academy’s infrastructure and reach is essential for allowing as many children as possible to access a world of great literature.
“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.”