21st September 2017 

Pupils at St Sebastian's RC Primary School in Salford enjoyed a visit from bestselling author-illustrator Cressida Cowell of the How to Train Your Dragon series on Monday 18 September.

The visit comes as the school is gifted a set of 70 brand new children’s books and specially designed bookshelves as part of the Duchess’s Bookshelves project, spearheaded by six literacy charities and organisations. It’s the day before publication day for Cressida’s next book series, The Wizards of Once, so the children will get a sneak peek of the book before all other children worldwide.

St Sebastian's RC Primary School was one of 70 primary schools across the country to receive the books to mark Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall’s 70th birthday earlier this year. Cressida Cowell, who is an ambassador for the National Literacy Trust, has supported the Duchess’s Bookshelves project and her book How to Train Your Dragon is included in the set.

During her visit to the school, Cressida will give the children an exclusive reading of The Wizards of Once, suggest writing and illustrating tips and talk about what it’s like to have your books made into films. She will also answer questions from the children.

St Sebastian's Primary School was nominated to receive the bookshelves by children's literacy charity Beanstalk for commitment to promoting reading for enjoyment. The school has worked with Beanstalk for five years to bring volunteer reading helpers from the local community into the school twice a week to support children with reading. Over that time the initiative has helped many pupils develop confidence and establish in them a life-long love of books.

Shirley Hepworth, Beanstalk Coordinator said:

  • "We are delighted that St Sebastian's RC Primary School has received a set of these very special bookshelves and will enjoy a visit from Cressida Cowell. The school has always been extremely welcoming and supportive of Beanstalk volunteer reading helpers and understood the difference they make to children's lives, not just through improving reading levels but also building children's confidence and self-esteem.”

Cressida Cowell says:

  • "I have been an Ambassador for the National Literacy Trust for more than a decade, and they do incredible work supporting schools and teachers encourage a love of reading. Reading for pleasure has an incredible impact on children’s future lives, and it’s crucial that it’s something fun, and that there are new books available in schools for them to discover. I’m delighted to open the Duchess’s Bookshelves and give the children the first exclusive sneak peek of my new book, The Wizards of Once."

The Duchess Cornwall is Patron of the organisations involved in Duchess’s Bookshelves - the National Literacy Trust, Beanstalk, BookTrust, First Story, Roald Dahl Literary Estate* and the Wicked Young Writer Awards.

See the list of the 70 books chosen for the Duchess’s Bookshelves.