Imagine how your life would be if you could not read or write.
This is the reality for 773 million people around the world who are illiterate and 2 billion who struggle to read a sentence. Illiteracy is linked to poverty and lack of opportunity. The World Literacy Foundation works to bring the power and freedom of literacy to children and young people around the world.
Here in the UK, some 380,000 children do not own a book at home. Our project UK Reads aims to tackle this gap by organising book distribution and awareness events in 50 postcodes in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, identified as areas of deprivation. UK Reads builds on existing localised book distribution events which have taken place since 2014 in London and Birmingham.
UK Reads will source book donations from bookstores and publishers and work with existing suppliers to find great quality, age-appropriate titles that will be read and re-read - and loved. We believe that if we can encourage the youngest children to discover the joy of books and reading, social, academic and career success will follow.
The first batch of children’s books will be distributed as a Christmas gift in December 2020. For effective and cost-efficient project delivery we are building on links with local and District level Rotary clubs and Lions clubs as well as drawing on our network of WLF Ambassadors who volunteer time to promote reading and education in their local communities across the UK.
"These books will be a wonderful gift for local children this Christmas. This year has been so difficult for many. The loss of in-person support and baby groups has been a harsh reality for many parents with under fives. To have these gifts, freely given by people who care, is so special. Thank you UK Reads and to the Lions of Newbury for volunteering your time to wrap the books so beautifully". Kayleigh, West Berkshire Community Baby Bank
Above: Working with Home-Start and West Berkshire Community Baby Bank, UK Reads had the fantastic support of the Lions club of Newbury (and one of their grandchildren!) to wrap donated books ready to give to local children who would otherwise miss out.
With UK Reads we aim to:
- Increase children’s book ownership in specific and targeted postcodes
- Provide children suitable and engaging books
- See children develop a love and habit for reading
- Mentor parents and family members about the importance of a regular reading routine at home
- Lift literacy skills of children from disadvantaged homes
- Bring a change of attitude and behaviour towards reading a book.
The UK Reads project will initially run November 2020 - November 2021. To find out more about UK Reads and our partners and supporters please visit the website ukreads.org
The realities of developing and implementing a UK-wide project of physical book deliveries and awareness events will be tested by the presence of coronavirus and the implications of local lockdowns and last minute changes. However, with the temporary closure of schools and libraries, the crisis has shone a stark light on the literacy gap faced by children from lower income areas and by finding appropriate, Covid-secure routes and mechanisms we are determined to put books into the hands of those children who most need them.
Thank you for supporting UK Reads.