Newham Bookshop in east London has raised £2,000 in the last month to gift 1,000 books to disadvantaged children for Christmas.
Manager Vivian Archer told The Bookseller her shop started accepting donations during the first lockdown to buy books for children who don’t have any of their own. With another difficult Christmas coming up, even more people have begun to donate.
Archer and the team have been busy choosing books and sending them out to local charities. A video about their work was released by the BBC this week, and has been shared widely. In the video, Archer explains that she wants to “share the love” that she and everyone else who works in the shop has for books and “be able to show them what books can do to actually change lives” because “many children in this area don’t have access to their own books”. The video shows how local charity the Magpie Project, for mums of children under five who are homeless or at risk of homelessness
in Newham and the surrounding boroughs, is using books provided by the bookshop to fill stockings for children.
Various industry figures, such as Hamish Hamilton’s Simon Prosser and Fourth Estate’s Kishani Widyaratna, alongside the Hay Festival have retweeted the video and praised the bookshop for its work in the local community.
Archer said the bookshop spends a lot of time choosing appropriate books for different charities. She said they are particularly focused on providing diverse books. “It’s really important [children] see themselves reflected in the books,” she said. “There are some wonderful books and I think the publishers are working on it but they need to just keep working on it. There have been some great books but we need more. Especially for very young ones.”
She said the team were “really honoured and thrilled” by the reaction to the video on social media. “We’ve been at it a long time so we really feel that sort of love that’s been shown to us and it really means a lot,” she said.
Looking ahead to another difficult period for booksellers, with uncertainty due to the new Omicron variant of Covid-19, she vowed the shop will continue to accept donations and provide books to local charities to ensure that all children have access to books.
“If anybody does want to donate give us a ring or email,” she said. Newham Bookshop can be contacted on 020 8552 9993 or emailed at email@example.com.