Penguin Random House Children's imprint Puffin will give away 25,000 books to 50 primary schools as part of a new initiative with the National Literacy Trust.
Francesca Dow, m.d. of PRH Children’s, told The Bookseller that the ‘Puffin World of Stories’ project would reach 13,000 pupils at schools in three areas: Middlesbrough and South Shields, Essex and South London.
“We are so excited about Puffin World of Stories,” she said. “It’s all about reading for pleasure and we are going to provide books, training and resources to schools because we want to reinvigorate libraries or reading spaces.”
Each school will receive 500 free Puffin books, promotional resources like bookmarks and posters, and National Literacy Trust membership and training.
“Libraries are at the heart of a young person’s development,” said NLT director Jonathan Douglas. “It’s where they can take risks as readers and find their reading identities. This is especially important in terms of social mobility. We want to revivify children’s libraries.”
Puffin is funding the scheme by providing the books and materials and the NLT will support the schools through its membership scheme, which offers participants things such as competitions and action plans.
The schools chosen to take part all have a high percentage of children who receive free school meals and the relationship between literacy and social background is stronger in the UK than in any other European country apart from Romania, said Douglas.
“We have chosen Middlesbrough because we have been working with Penguin Random House on Read North East for several years,” he said. “South London, near the Penguin Random House office has some significant literacy challenges. And we have chosen rural Essex because one of our key concerns is rural areas, which are often very under-resourced.”
Dow said the books sent to the schools will be selected from a list of 200 Puffin titles, including a mix of writers schools always want to have, such as Jacqueline Wilson, and some they don’t yet know about. Puffin will also organise author visits, she said.
Puffin World of Stories will run through the 2018/19 academic year and the NLT will monitor its progress through teacher and pupil interviews and statistical research.