Author and literacy advocate James Patterson is funding 'Buy A Book, Give A Book' to encourage reading in children and families from disadvantaged backgrounds through an initiative between Penguin, Asda and the National Literary Trust (NLT).
The partnership is dedicated to inspiring lifelong reading and will help the nationwide charity provide access to books to children, young people and families in the UK’s most disadvantaged communities. One new Penguin title, from a range of genres, will be donated to the NLT for every one of Patterson's book sold in Asda, in store or online, until 31st December 2019.
A minimum of 250,000 books will be donated to the NLT regardless of how many books are sold in Asda. Patterson’s aim is to "get everyone reading more so there is no upper limit to the amount of books donated," Penguin told The Bookseller.
'Buy A Book, Give A Book' is further facilitated by Asda which will also promote the scheme in store and online, broadening the reach and scale of the initiative.
The books donated will be distributed to children, young people and families living in some of the UK’s most deprived communities in March 2020 through the NLT’s network of Literacy Hubs. These hubs are based in areas where low levels of literacy are seriously impacting people’s lives – including Middlesbrough, Bradford and Swindon.
Asda will promote the initiative on their covers, including Patterson's Alex Cross series and children’s series Max Einstein. The scheme launch coincides with the the paperback publication of The President Is Missing (Cornerstone), written by Patterson and former US President Bill Clinton. The hardback was published in 2018 and was a number one bestseller in America, UK and Ireland.
“It is my mission to prove that there is no such thing as a person who does not like to read, only people who have not found the right book,” Patterson said. “Penguin, Asda and the National Literacy Trust are each dedicated to inspiring the reading habit and this initiative would not be possible without each of their contributions. These books will help to give disadvantaged communities in the UK access to books.”
Jonathan Douglas, NLT director, said: “Too many children living in the UK’s poorest communities are missing out on the transformative power of reading because they don’t have a single book of their own at home. When children enjoy reading and have books of their own, they are more likely to do better at school and go on to lead happy, healthy and successful lives, so we must do everything we can to inspire children to fall in love with reading for a lifetime.”
Phil Henderson, book buyer for Asda, said “We want to make sure that books are available and accessible and we offer a great range for all the family to encourage and inspire reading.”
In the past five years, Patterson has donated more than £500,000 to independent bookshops in the UK and Ireland including a £50,000 gift to UK libraries last year. And in 2013, Patterson pledged $1million to US bookshops which funded everything from customising a school bus as a mobile bookshop to providing free books for underprivileged children. In the same year Patterson also supported BookTrust’s ‘Dad’s Army’ campaign which provided guidance for fathers to enjoy reading with their children. In addition, Patterson funded the World Book Day Award in 2013, which donated books to school libraries in the UK. In March, the writer launched the Young Bookseller Special Achievement Award in association with the Booksellers Association.
The 72-year-old is the bestselling adult fiction author in the UK since BookScan records began. He’s sold 25.7 million copies for £147.2m, according to Nielsen BookScan.