Target Who Books Donated to Schools: 9673
Inspired Donations by Other People: 416

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Donating 11,000 Books to School Libraries to support Children's Literacy

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

The Universe Conspires

Sometimes in life the universe conspires to allow wonderful things to happen.  We at Target Who believe our project is one of those things.  On paper our aims seem impossible - to distribute 14,000 books to schools around the Country with little or no cost to us.  Madness - How can we possibly do that?  Well we can and we will.  Just watch us.

Over the last two weeks we have held many secret conversations - in person; by telephone; by email; by anyway possible.  We have so many exciting things in place, but we are not telling you them yet!  We are holding them back until they have happened.  In this way we hope to make our story inspirational.  We hope people will keep checking our blog to read our latest success and go to work smiling.  We hope teachers will talk about what we are doing, not just in the staffroom, but with their classes too.  We hope to show the world just what can be achieved with courtesy, passion for a cause, the ability to communicate that passion and friendship.

The universe is already conspiring to aide us.  Just try calculating the odds that 14,000 books would lie in storage for nearly 30 years, only to become available in Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary Year?  What are the odds that this eBay auction would be won by a collection of philanthropic fans wanting to give them away?  What are the odds that when I contacted my old Primary School, the ‘School on the Hill’ from an earlier post, that I received this reply?

Thank you very much for your email, it was a pleasure to read and I'm pleased that you have such fond memories of Featherstone.

The scheme that you are running with the books sounds amazing and I would love to know more.  We have many Doctor Who fans who would love to meet you, hear your memories of Featherstone and share your DW books!  Who knows your input may also create some new DW fans.

We are having the grand opening of our new library at 2.00pm, on 8th May - Short notice I know, but you are more than welcome to come along.  It’s going to be attended by the local Councillor and our Governors.  The Sutton Observer will be here too.

Let me know what you think.
Really, just what are the odds eh? Wow!  How perfect was that.  Teachers will know just how long it takes to fund and furnish a new library and here was my old school officially opening a new library within a week of my email.  Do you see what we mean about the universe conspiring to help us?   So on the evening before, I travelled up to my parents and stayed overnight.  On the morning of 8th May I was awoken for the first time in three decades by my Mother shouting “Hurry up son; you’ll be late for school!”

It was fascinating to see how much the school had changed or was different from my ancient memories.  The School Nurses’ office now houses the computer server!  The Television room, in which we gathered to watch ‘Picture Box’, is now an area where Teaching Assistants can work one to one with the children requiring extra support.  The ‘giant hill’ of memory that we used to be allowed to play on in summer turned out to be nothing more than a gentle slope!  Amazingly it now has a wooden house built into it.  What an amazing resource for the children to use.  

See more pictures here: Underhill House

Some of the school was identical though.  The reception class still has a Wendy House in the exact same part of the classroom as the one I loved in 1972.  The Dinner Hall hatches were exactly the same, but thankfully the custard no longer has lumps!  

The school held a special assembly to honour my return.  The Headteacher, Mr Gaibee, introduced me to the children and produced the school register of pupils from 1956 to 1974.  Using an overhead projector the children searched for my name in the index and found my entry in this historic school record.  There was my name on the big screen listed amongst all my classmates of yesteryear - The class of 1972.

I told the children of my love of reading and shared with them the secret of books.  I explained that every book has magic inside its pages and if you read the right book that magic can escape out into your mind and feed your imagination.  It can make you love reading and then, the more you read, the better your literacy becomes.  I told them that there was a different ‘magic book’ for all of us and I had found mine in their school library many years ago.  I asked if any children had found their ‘magic book’.  It was lovely to see around half the assembled children’s hands go up and I invited some of them to share their personal ‘magic book’s’ name.  I told the rest of the children, those that didn’t love reading, that there was a ‘magic book’ out there for them somewhere too.  They just needed to keep looking for it.  Perhaps it was one of the books in their new library.  Perhaps it was one of the Doctor Who books I had bought with me for their school.

The local press reported on my visit and you can find that here: Sutton Observer 
They captured forever the symbolic moment as I handed a new copy of the Doctor Who book that made me a lifelong reader back to the very school I first read it in nearly 40 years ago.
Courtesy of the Sutton Coldfield Observer
When I left the school at the end of the day a small child came up to me and said “I haven’t found my ‘magic book’ yet Mr Dovey, but I love Doctor Who.  I’m going to read all those books you gave us.  Maybe one of them is my ‘magic book’.”  It was the perfect end to the perfect day.

I left my old school and walked back down the hill knowing that my work there was done.  But here at Target Who our work is just beginning.  We now have just eight books in one school library and many, many schools to go.  There is now a counter at the top of the blog that will steadily increase in the weeks and months ahead.  Initially we will start with those schools nearest to us, but slowly we will spread out to reach those schools far away - even all you up in the Scottish Highlands. 

Many of the other members at Target Who will be taking their own personal journey back to their old childhood schools too.  We also hope our story will inspire other Doctor Who fans out there to do the same.  Please join us in our quest by returning to your old childhood school and taking them a Doctor Who book.  There you will see just how much it was changed, but how much the current generation are just like we were back then.  What better way of celebrating the 50th Anniversary is there than sharing it with those children who currently are under Doctor Who’s spell.  Who knows, the book you donate may just be that ‘magic book’ that changes a child’s life forever.   Please join us and share you story with us too.

We are Target Who.  We have just begun our quest to inspire an entire generation.  We hope you will join us in our journey.  You won’t believe where we are going to next … 

Target Who would like to thank Roberta Hill, Edris Gaibee, the Staff and Pupils of Featherstone Primary School and the Sutton Observer newspaper for making our first donation so special.


  1. Lovely post David, I hope you are proud of what you are achieving here, its incredible! My magic book was Little House on The Prairie. But there was another - the Sue Barton books inspired me to want to become a nurse. Ive even managed to find some old copies :)

  2. I, much like you as a child was a reader of comics, the Dandy and Beano to be precise and it wasn't really until late in senior school at the age of about 16 that I read a book called 'The Writing on the Wall' by Lynne Reid Banks. This was my 'Magic Book' or should have been. I was absolutely captivated by it, couldn't put it down and looked forward to each new chapter - and there weren't even any pictures in it! When I had finished it I remember telling my English teacher how much I had enjoyed it and asking if there was a follow up book. I was disappointed to discover that there wasn't. And here is where that newfound love of books and reading ended for me for quite some years, I didn't have a teacher who realised that Sarah has found a book she likes and I was guided to another author either. But I am happy to say that for the last ten years I have rediscovered the love of reading and that my daughters have it too at such an early age. After a bit of research, I have found and recently purchased 'The Writing on the Wall' and re-read it. I couldn't remember much of the storyline, but I still felt that buzz - must have been the Magic!

  3. The Shining by Stephen King, aged 14, I was a late starter.

  4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, I too was a little older maybe about 10 or 11 but I can vividly remember the mental images created and wanted to be one of those children. I later read the sequel books which were good but not as magical as the first.

  5. A truly inspirational post, and I can't wait to see where this project is headed!

  6. For me it was The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison. Wonderful stuff, I was hooked from page 1 and could not put it down. For younger readers try Men from PIG and ROBOT. Very funny. Both by the same author.

  7. When I left the school at the end of the day a small child came up to me and said “I haven’t found my ‘magic book’ yet Mr Dovey, but I love Doctor Who. I’m going to read all those books you gave us. Maybe one of them is my ‘magic book’.”

    Actually brought a tear to my eye.

  8. Nicola Gwilym School Mentor Dovedale Junior School20 May 2013 at 09:52

    I am inspired by your passion and drive to reach out to reluctant readers.
    I have started sharing with some of the pupils I mentor about the impending delivery & am going to hold an assembly to ask for some Dr Who fans to help me decide how we can use the books to get to our reluctant readers so that they might find their 'magic book'.
    Two new libraries at our school has had a HUGE impact on the amount of books being read so your books will be a welcome addition.
    Enjoy your new journey!