Read all about it: Gillian Anderson drops in as school's library fills with books
By Katie Law
London Evening Standard: 18 December 2014
Christmas has come early for the 184 pupils at Kensington Aldridge Academy. The response from publishers, authors and librarians following our story last week about the academy's shortage of books for its first intake of year seven pupils has been overwhelming. Within hours, publishers of all the children's favourite titles had offered to help, with boxes of books rushed in to fill the library's shelves.
Evening Standard owner Evgeny Lebedev visited the school with actress Gillian Anderson to see what the children thought about the new arrivals by their wishlist authors, including JK Rowling, Malorie Blackman, Suzanne Collins, Rachel Renee Russell, John Boyne, Anthony Horowitz, Jeff Kinney, Stephenie Meyer and David Walliams.
Sydney Rowetoth, 11, is already halfway through her new copy of Walliams's "Demon Dentist". When asked by Mr Lebedev what she liked about the writer, she replied: "Because he makes me laugh. He's my favourite author."
She then asked Mr Lebedev if he had a favourite book. Mr Lebedev replied that, being a Russian, it was "Eugene Onegin" by Alexander Pushkin. Sydney promised him she would look it up.
"I'm really impressed by how much the kids were keen to read. I don't think I was that keen when I was their age," Mr Lebedev said. "The Standard has become such a force for good in London and has been used to improve peoples' lives, in this particular case kids' lives and their ability to engage in something that hopefully will become extremely important to them.
"It's a really fine thing and we should be proud of it. Apart from being a service to Londoners, we can also be of use to Londoners. Those who need help are helped by it. It's a wonderful thing."
Gillian Anderson, who recently won the Natasha Richardson Award for Best Actress at the 60th London Evening Standard Theatre Awards, agreed: "It's fantastic. I'm very impressed with the amount that the students have read already and how much they read.
"I remember trying to shove Harry Potter on my own daughter when she was nine and she had no interest whatsoever. It wasn't until she read "The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time" by Mark Haddon that her eyes were opened."
For school librarian Vashti Turner, seeing the packed shelves is a dream come true. "I've been contacted by many authors, school librarians and others, including the librarian from Highgate School who's been in touch with a large network of private schools sending in their excess copies," she said. "The children, who are already enthusiastic, got extremely excited when we started unpacking the books."
The school has also been given 1,000 British Pounds by the Kensington & Chelsea Foundation to help develop its collection as well as receiving 30 e-readers from NOOK in support of the Evening Standard's Get Reading campaign.
As Jeff Kinney, author of "Diary Of A Wimpy Kid", puts it: "I couldn't agree more as to how important books are in a child's educational and personal development and I hope the library at the Aldridge Academy becomes a thriving addition to the school."