Doorstep Library

Doorstep Library

At a glance


  • Children / families
  • Education
  • Local / community
  • Poverty relief

Other details

Geographical remit: 


Do you remember a character from a childhood book as fondly as an old friend?

If you do, you’ll know the magic of being able to slip into another world as and when you need to, or how books can make your world a bigger, brighter place.

For bookworms especially, it’s hard to believe that anyone could see reading as anything other than empowering, or even just a pleasure. For the third of children from disadvantaged areas who leave primary school without being able to read well, often it’s nothing but a chore.

That’s why we like to turn up on the doorstep, with backpacks of books, two little stools, and a pair of volunteers who know that words take you places.

Doorstep Library was established in 2010, with the aim of instilling a love of reading for pleasure among disadvantaged children.  Our projects are different to other literacy programs because we are home-based, meaning we are able to establish relationships with those families who may face barriers to reading with their children or taking them outside of the home to access services. These are often families that are most in need or socially isolated. With our long-term support not only do we spark the joy of reading for both children and their parents, but families are able to build up their self-confidence and trust in others in the community, towards professionals and the world of education.

We started out with one project in Fulham and have expanded our reach to 13 projects across 3 London boroughs (Hammersmith and Fulham, Westminster, Lambeth), visiting over 500 children a week at present.  We are continuing to grow which makes it an exciting time to get involved.


Our volunteers bring the magic of reading directly into the homes of families living in disadvantaged areas every week.

Armed with a backpack full of books and two little stools, Doorstep Library volunteers visit the same 5 families every week to share their love of reading with primary school aged children. Doorstep Library volunteers don’t just read stories though. They do the silly voices, hand pick the books, and give special recommendations. By making it fun first, we inspire children to experience the joy of stories and books, and transform them into budding readers.

By really getting to know the families, week after week, we empower parents to get stuck into the sessions too and encourage them to get involved in their children’s education. Sometimes though, we’re just there to give a bit of extra support, whether we’re passing on info about a family activity, lending an ear, or even just being a friendly face. Then, before we go, we leave behind a selection of books for each child to borrow for the week.

Where do we do it?

We work in disadvantaged areas because poor reading skills are inextricably linked to economic disadvantage and reduced life possibilities. For various reasons, children from the poorest families are less likely to have books, less likely to read with their parents and less likely to read for pleasure. Not only are they more likely to fall behind in their studies as a result, they fall behind in their lives. We go to them because much of what support there is doesn’t reach its target and we leave our most vulnerable children behind.

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