The Little English Library is a Breda (NL)-based not-for-profit project supporting young English speakers and young English Language Learners. The project was founded by Tatia Gruenbaum (me) at the end of 2013. It all started off with the simple idea of creating a free library service for English children’s books for all children who speak English or who are learning English in & around Breda.
In April 2014, The Little English School Library opened in the Montessori +, a Dutch Primary school in Breda. It is a busy little school library which by now offers around 2000 English children´s books, magazines, audio-books and story bags suitable for children aged 0-12.
It was not long before enquiries started coming in from Dutch primary teachers and parents. I was asked to read in classes and was asked for ideas on what to do with children´s books in the Early English classroom. I was also asked which books would be suitable for Young English Learners and how to set up an English
school library. So while the Breda-based children were happily reading away, I started to shift my focus to the Young English Learners further afield. I started thinking about ways of getting English children´s books to other classrooms, outside of Breda. I had a few ideas such as Books in a Box and SWAP 20 … see Initiatives for more details.
2015 was a really busy year and the reward came in October when together with Helen Redding (editor), I attended the School Library Inspiration Award 2015 (SLA) in London for which the school library had been short-listed. The Little English Library did not win but the recognition and praise we received, made me feel like I had.
2016 was just as busy. I started working with teacher training academies and teachers to show how English children´s books can be used in the EFL classroom. And in order to help Dutch primary schools set up their own libraries, I launched 1-2-3 for Schools, an off-the shelf library-book system. 2016 also saw The Little English short-listed for the British Council ELTons 2016 – amazing and short-listed for the Europees Talenlabel prize. And finally, the first Little English Town Library was launched in the Utrechtse Heuvelrug and 14 schools joined the TLEL project.
I think The Little English Library is a project which could travel the Netherlands perhaps even the world. It is wonderful to see how this project is being met with enthusiasm and support by both the international and Dutch community, schools, teachers and of course children.
If you are looking for more info do get in touch or watch this short talk, I recorded for teachers in Amsterdam.
Tatia Gruenbaum / Founder