The Sun on Sunday and children's reading charity BookTrust are launching a new campaign, Books For Kids, asking readers to send in their old children’s books so they can be pulped and turned into new ones, "bringing the joy of reading to more families during lockdown".
As part of the four-week campaign, the Sun on Sunday wants readers to send in children's books "no matter how ripped and tatty they are"; the newspaper will then pay to recycle them before BookTrust begins free distribution of "bright and colourful new publications" carefully chosen by its children’s books experts.
The books that will be sent out include: Can You See Me by Libby Scott and Rebecca Westcott (Scholastic); Billy And The Dragon by Nadia Shireen (Jonathan Cape); Real-Life Disasters by Susan Martineau and Vicky Barker (b small publishing); and Splish Splash Ducky! by Lucy Cousins (Walker Books).
They will reach children via schools, children’s centres, food banks, refuges and family support teams.
A number of celebrities are backing the campaign, including children's authors David Walliams and Dermot O’Leary, and TV presenter Konnie Huq.
Walliams said he "wholeheartedly" supported the campaign, explaining: "Some of my fondest memories are of reading with my parents and it’s devastating to think some families don’t have access to books," to which O’Leary added: "Reading is so important for children. It encourages empathy, improves learning and offers a chance to escape to the far reaches of our imagination."
Huq said: "I’m so on board with this brilliant campaign. We need to do everything to ensure that all children have access to books. Parents are struggling with home-schooling, but if your child is reading, or you are sharing stories together, that’s literacy covered. The fact that the Sun on Sunday is recycling old books is also brilliant as it gives parents the chance to have a good clear-out.”
The Sun editor-in-chief Victoria Newton said: "Books are such a vital part of childhood and are more important than ever at this time. Our loyal and generous readers always get behind our campaigns to help those who need it most and this is another cause we are proud to champion."
Education secretary Gavin Williamson added: "Books fire a child’s imagination, improve literacy and open doors to new worlds, not to mention the positive impact they can have on mental health. That is why we put such an emphasis on reading in schools and why I support this campaign."
To get involved, readers can either post old books to "Books For Kids, PO Box 485, Grays, Essex RM17 7HY" or send them via Hermes' collection service at a 70% discount, the reduced cost of £1.99 for a medium-sized box. Detailed instructions are available on the Sun's website.