Jan 2015 New Grants

Posted on Jan 26, 2015 in Latest News | 0 comments

At the January Trustee meeting, it was decided to fund two projects:

A family reading day project run by the Prisons Reading Group and Roehampton University. (We’ve funded work in prisons before and are very committed to projects like this which help the children of prisoners through books).

A teen parent / baby reading group in Leeds, run by Reading Matters – this will be a pilot project where young parents will read a YA title as well as picture books for their children.

Book exchange: One school’s experience

Posted on Jan 9, 2015 in Latest News, Teachers and Librarians | 0 comments

Our 2015 project will be building and supplying simple book exchanges to communities in the UK. The very first have already been delivered in the first week of the school term. They will be hosted by Bearwood Primary School and will be available to the community as they will be sited in open to the public areas of the school playground. One of the boxes will be at a local cafe, Coffee Junction. Those at Bearwood Primary were made by the UK based charity, LFL Project. Click here for the blog by LFL Project’s Nick Cheshire.

Each box will contain information on where to find the local public library.

We asked the teacher behind the school application to the Siobhan Dowd Trust to write up why the school is doing this: 


With so many other distractions, how do you get children to fall in love with books? 


As teachers we know how important it is to get them reading for pleasure as early as possible, but without a dedicated library space in school, we needed something different. We also wanted to surround our children with as many opportunities to read as possible. We decided to create an outdoor library; to combat indoor space limitations, and give children access to books and comics at free time such as playtime, lunchtime and home time. We also wanted to target parents who might be reluctant to take their offspring to an established library.


We discovered Little Free Libraries on an American website, and were soon thinking of ways we could adapt them to meet our needs within school and the local community.  We contacted the Siobhan Dowd Trust to discuss the idea and they helped us source, fund and design the boxes. Ours are colourful, eye-catching and weatherproof, like little homes for Mary Norton’s Borrowers.


Filling the boxes was easy.  Ours are filled with a range of books, some supplied by school, some donated by staff, children  and parents, and a monthly subscription to a series of comics ensures a regularly updated range of reading material.  Boys particularly enjoy a dip into the comics at playtimes.


We did need to think carefully about the positioning of our little swap-boxes to maximise their impact.  As our playground is open to the public at weekends as a car park, we knew the boxes positioned there could be accessed by families in their free time.  But we also wanted to extend the scheme within the community, to build reading behaviours and a love of books beyond our immediate environment.  A local charity run café, which is a real hub for the local community, agreed to host one for us and the scheme is going from strength to strength. 


We are hoping to site another box within the community soon, when we can find a suitable host.  We are really excited by our Book exchanges and hope more will spring up across the area.  Watch this space….  



Rachael Crofts, Assistant Head Teacher
Bearwood Primary School, Smethwick


Posted on Nov 24, 2014 in Latest News | 0 comments

Our Trustees met last week and have agreed to fund the following projects:

The Clearvision project - ClearVision is a UK postal lending library of mainstream children’s books with added braille. Their books all have braille (or Moon), print and pictures, making them suitable for visually-impaired and sighted children and adults to share. There are over 13,000 books in the collection, including tactile board books, simple stories for young children and stimulating books for newly fluent readers. We will be funding a project My Home Library making it easier for blind children to have books of their own. 

Seven Stories – The Trust will be contributing towards the costs of an ambitious outreach programme run by Seven Stories and Action for Children. It’s in conjunction with the 2015 exhibition “Rhyme around the World” which will celebrate classic nursery rhymes and explore new interpretations in diverse cultural traditions. We are funding Seven Stories to work in 4 community groups in Newcastle and Northumberland promoting reading for pleasure and encouraging families to discover new rhymes.  Staff from Action for Children centres will take part in the programme and share what works best nationally.

Children’s Bereavement UK: we have arranged for Michael Rosen to speak at their conference in Westminster next March. 


Book exchanges – A simple box with books that can be swapped from which children can access books freely and easily. Not meant in any way as a substitute for Libraries but as a way of encouraging reading, books and discovering the local library (all the boxes we will supply will contain information on where to find the local public library). Our first site will be at Bearwood Primary School in the West Midlands and in Preston (to accompany an exciting book bench project in conjunction with Wild in Art, the National Literacy Trust and Lancashire Museums). I

We are also planning to organise another group of Young Adult Readers to attend next year’s YALC (hoping this happens…) – we will be looking for an area (outside of London) and cluster of schools who would like help with their travel & admission costs. If you are a school librarian interested in bringing some students and possibly organising other schools local to you to join you, please get in touch.


CONGRATULATIONS Light Oaks Juniors, Salford

Posted on Nov 19, 2014 in Latest News, Teachers and Librarians | 0 comments

Today Siobhan’s sister & Trustee Denise Dowd and I visited our SLA School Library competition winner, Light Oaks Junior School in Salford.

They made a HUGE deal out of the official opening: the library is now fully stocked with an impressive selection of current fiction (everything published before Literacy Co-ordinator Miss Burke was born has been replaced they said) and there is a beautiful mural designed and painted by the very talented Mrs Done.

Light Oaks was picked as the winning school as the Judges (Trust Chairman Tony Bradman, Queen of Teen Author and ex-Primary teacher James Dawson, Secondary librarian Carol Webb and CLPE’s Charlotte Hacking) were impressed with the school’s enthusiasm and determination to build a school library despite a run of bad luck involving arson and then flood.

Some of the £6,000 prize money has been saved for the pupils to choose their own books – we look forward to seeing what they pick!

Lots of pictures – and some very impressive Roald Dahl themed dressing up, especially Mr Twit – are on our Twitter feed: @sdowdtrust. At least we HOPE the teacher was dressed as Mr Twit…

Kate Powling / Director, The Siobhan Dowd Trust


great news in Liverpool, but elsewhere…

Posted on Nov 19, 2014 in Latest News | 0 comments

More Library closures or drastically reduced hours as local government faces budget cuts. This is a campaign in Cornwall led by 10 year old Leon Remphry:

Dear friend,

We’ve waited over 2 months for the petition to Save Cornwall Libraries to be looked at by Cornwall Council.  Even though I handed in the huge petition in September, the Council refused to listen to me at the time. But because of our pressure, they’ve finally agreed to hear what I have to say – and I need your help!

The Council meeting – when the petition will be debated – is going to be next Tuesday, the 25th November. It’s a crucial meeting because councillors will be making their final decision on the future of libraries. There’s two things you can do to make sure that Cornwall council know how much we want our libraries saved:

1) Come along to the meeting. It’s public – and I’d really like it if you could come and show your support for our libraries. The meeting starts at 10.30am. Please RSVP if you’re planning to come:

2) Ask a question at the meeting. It’s a bit complicated – you have to submit your question in advance. And there’s a few rules you need to follow for the Council to look at your question:
-it needs to be under 50 words
-it needs to be emailed to the council by 12 midday on 20th November
-it needs to be send to

Please don’t be put off by the rules though – the more of us that ask questions, the more pressure the Council will feel to save our libraries.

These library cuts have to be stopped. Libraries are the only places where you can sit down and read, take out a book, discover a new author – libraries are where I get inspiration for my own stories. Others use the library for socialising, toddler groups, reading newspapers and computers.


Thanks for supporting this campaign. I’ll update you on how the meeting goes.

All the best,

Leon aged 10

PS: To keep up the pressure, I organised a debate at my school about the importance of libraries. On the panel are: the councillor for libraries Adam Paynter, councillor Fiona Ferguson, ex-librarian Derek Toyne and West Country based author Michael Morpurgo. Hopefully this will set the scene for the Council debate next week.

a love letter to liverpool libraries (all libraries under threat really…)

Posted on Nov 6, 2014 in Latest News | 0 comments

UPDATE: The Mayor of Liverpool has announced that the 11 libraries will not be closed – wonderful news! Congratulations library campaigners and Liverpool City Council..

Liverpool Council have announced that 11 of the city’s 19 libraries may have to be closed because of spending cuts. These proposals have prompted a unique campaign from Children’s Author Cathy Cassidy who is asking writers and readers to write a Love Letter to Liverpool’s Libraries and send it to the Mayor of Liverpool. More info (and an interview with Cathy) is on the Independent Liverpool blog, but here’s our love letter:

                                                                                                                       4th November 2014


Mayor Joe Anderson,

Liverpool Town Hall,

Liverpool L2 3SW


A Love Letter to Liverpool Libraries


Dear Mayor Anderson,


It was with huge sadness that I heard about the proposed closure of 11 libraries in Liverpool. I understand from reading your blog this wasn’t an easy decision and realise local government are being asked to make drastic cuts but please I would urge you to reconsider this one.


The Siobhan Dowd Trust is a small charity which was set up by the Children’s Author Siobhan Dowd to inherit the proceeds of her work. We fund small projects which aim to bring the joy of reading to those that need it most. We interpret “those who need it most” fairly widely, though it tends to be mainly (though not exclusively) economic disadvantage.


I had learnt of the brilliant work being done in Liverpool with the Reader Organisation and the Mayoral focus on making Liverpool the foremost reading city in the UK. What a wonderful ambition! But to propose the closure of 11 out of 19 libraries? How can this be in the City of Readers? Is there really no other alternative?


I know these cuts are nothing new. A few months ago we were protesting about cuts to Cornish Library services. My own local library in South London is now relocated, shrunken and run by volunteers (the old building now a private school – what a sign of the times!). Another is a local phone box with a “take a book, leave a book” scheme. Both do a good job, but are no substitute for a proper library with trained and skilled and caring librarians.


In shutting libraries and making access to books more difficult we are doing far more than cutting valuable public services. We are limiting life choices and potential.


Please reconsider these library closures and work with those campaigning to save the libraries under threat in Liverpool. We should not be letting central government spending restrictions limit future generations imaginations and viewpoints.


If we can help in any way (would that we had the funds to step in!) please get in touch,


Yours sincerely,

Kate Powling

Director, The Siobhan Dowd Trust



This letter was inspired by Cathy Cassidy and her invitation to the writing (and reading) community to join the campaign to Save Liverpool’s Libraries.

PATRICK NESS: His Edinburgh speech in full…

Posted on Aug 18, 2014 in Latest News, Media | 0 comments

Above is the link for Patrick’s Siobhan Dowd Trust Memorial Lecture which he gave to a full house at the Edinburgh Book Festival, Saturday August 16th. Start at the bottom, scroll up – because it’s on Tumblr, Patrick’s broken into into chunks, but this is the whole text.

This is what Patrick says as an introduction to the Tumblr speech: 


Siobhan Dowd Memorial Lecture – tumblrising it

So I’ve been asked a lot about putting my Siobhan Dowd Lecture online, so I’m putting it here.  It’s quite long (about 5000) words, so I’m cutting it up into parts (so read from this part up!).  Ignore the bold and the frequent breaks. Those are just for my eye when I’m doing the speech.  I also take frequent diversions from the speech when talking, so this is just a guide.

But it’s about what I care about when I write for young people and an attempt to try and reckon with why I might do it.  Not a definitive answer and certainly only my opinion and experience.  Yours might be different, and that’s great, as it should be.

This is just a bit about why I think I do what I do.  Hope you like it!  



One member of the audience told us on saturday night it was “the best thing he’d heard in ten years of coming to the Festival” (he then went  on to name some VERY big names he’d seen in that time which we’re too discreet to boast about…) Please let us know what you think – either by email or if you tweet, tweet us @sdowdtrust

Hope you enjoy it – it really is splendid in our totally objective opinion!


Posted on Jul 20, 2014 in Latest News | 0 comments

The Siobhan Dowd Trust is delighted to announce that Patrick Ness, two time Carnegie medal winner and Author of A Monster Calls (among others!) will be the first person to give the Siobhan Dowd Memorial Lecture.

It will be given at the Edinburgh Book Festival on Saturday 16th August, 5pm.

You can buy tickets for it HERE


Posted on Jul 20, 2014 in Latest News | 0 comments

On Saturday 12th July the Siobhan Dowd Trust arranged for 75 students and their teachers / librarians to come to the first ever YALC (Young Adult Literature Convention organised by Childrens Laureate Malorie Blackman

They came from 15 different schools from all over the country: Liverpool, Manchester, Stockport, Bolton, Mansfield, Nottingham, Cardiff, Bristol, Oxfordshire, Watford and London, and we organised and paid for their entrance tickets and train fares.

See a short movie about their day YALC – THE MOVIE


Posted on Jun 20, 2014 in Latest News, Teachers and Librarians | 0 comments


2014 SLA/Siobhan Dowd Trust School Library Competition


The Siobhan Dowd Trust is delighted to announce an increased number of winners for the School Library Competition for 2014. 8 schools will get cash awards of £500, while another 4 will get awards of £1,500, £3,000, £3,000 and £6,000.


Kate Powling, Director of the Trust said: “We were pleased to get so many entries for our school library competition, but shocked at how much need the entries demonstrated; it seems there are lots of libraries in schools without rooms, librarians, and in some cases books”.


The winners were announced at the Schools Library Association conference in Manchester, and a local school Light Oaks Junior School in Salford won the top prize. The Library at Light Oaks has suffered an arson attack and a flood so the Judges felt it was time to attempt to reverse their run of bad luck. In their winning application, teacher Hannah Burke wrote “On reading of your exciting competition, I was bursting with enthusiasm to enter as I believe our cries for help have been heard. The desperate need for money to re-establish our library has been felt by all the staff, pupils and parents of our school”.


This years Judges were: Tony Bradman (Author and Chairman of the Siobhan Dowd Trust), Carol Webb (the Librarian at Forest Hill School, South London & the SLA School Librarian of the Year 2011), Charlotte Hacking (Teaching and Learning Manager at the Centre of Literacy in Primary Education) and James Dawson (ex-Primary teacher, YA Author and Queen of Teen nominee).


The Siobhan Dowd Trust is a charity that was set up by the Author Siobhan Dowd to use the royalties from her books to fund reading projects for disadvantaged young readers.


For more information, please email Kate Powling on Follow us on Twitter: @sdowdtrust




“The most important room in any school is the library.

Every school needs one.”  Anthony Horowitz





2014 School Library Competition THE WINNERS ARE:


FIRST PRIZE £6000 – Light Oaks Junior School, Salford


JOINT RUNNERS UP £3000 – Thameside Primary School, Abingdon

                                                    Oasis Academy, Southbank, London


EXTRA RUNNER UP £1500 – Kelmscott School, Walthamstow, London



Primary shortlist –

             Fernhill Primary, Farnborough

             Gloucester Primary, Southwark

             St Mary’s Catholic Primary, Flintshire

             St Silas School, Liverpool 

Secondary shortlist –

             Heartlands High School, Haringey

             Lilian Baylis Technology School, Southwark

             Farnborough School Technology College, Nottingham

             Alsop High School, Liverpool

 “Reading is almost an extension to dreaming. Books are the essential access to knowledge and understanding. Every school HAS to have it’s own library. Literacy then is not simply a taught subject, it is a Joy.” Michael Morpurgo