A COMMUNITY project geared at giving youngsters access to free books has received royal recognition.
Henley-based Own Books has been awarded The King’s Award for Voluntary Service – the highest award a voluntary organisation can receive in the UK and equivalent to an MBE.
Own Books is a child-centred book recycling project to help youngsters have their own books at home regardless of their background.
It aims to encourage young children to develop an early love of books and reading through choosing and keeping their own books at home but without the financial stress for parents of needing to buy books.
It also aims to foster a love of sharing these books with siblings and family.
Julie de Bastion founded Own Books in 2014 while assisting with voluntary reading in her local primary school and discovering that some of the young children did not possess books at home.
She asked local charity shops for any children’s books they could give her, and securing a regular supply of books, and with the school’s enthusiastic response, this new idea of giving away books for free for children to take home and keep was born.
Two older children in each participating school are appointed book monitors so children can claim ownership of the scheme – sorting books, labelling them with the Own Books stickers and organising and displaying the books as they like.
Lord-Lieutenant of Warwickshire Tim Cox will present the award to the charity.
And members of the charity will also attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace next summer, along with other recipients of this year’s award.
The charity is among 262 UK charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the award this year.
It recognises outstanding work by local volunteer groups to benefit their communities.
It was created in 2002 to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee and, following his accession, His Majesty The King emphasised his desire to continue the award.