HarperCollins and newspaper The Sun have partnered up to hand out two million free books to school children across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The Books for Schools campaign will offer 20,000 primary schools packs of 106 books with downloadable teaching resources, worth £600, from the publisher’s Collins Big Cat reading programme. The programme includes titles by Julia Donaldson, Michael Morpurgo and Benjamin Zephaniah, and HarperCollins will also add an edition of David Walliams’ picture book There’s a Snake in my School to each pack.
The programme follows on from HarperCollins' partnership with The Scottish Sun last year where the publisher donated £1million in free books to 700 primary schools in Scotland.
Backed by the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, the Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell and the c.e.o. of the National Literacy Trust, Jonathan Douglas, the new campaign aims to tackle poor literacy skills in primary school students. The newspaper today cited recent figures from the National Literacy Trust which shows the number of primary age children who read every day has dropped by 5% in the last year.
The Sun editor Tony Gallagher said: “Evidence shows how important instilling a love of reading is from the earliest possible age. Reading has been proven to increase empathy in children, help relationships and mental wellbeing, and increase cognitive development. Children with poor literacy skills, on the other hand, are more likely to experience unemployment, poverty and poor health. With two million books to give away, alongside our hard-working primary school teachers, we can help to drive engagement in reading and increase literacy skills around the country.”
HarperCollins c.e.o. Charlie Redmayne said: “Children need books, and reading can change lives, so we are delighted that by working with The Sun and families and primary school schools across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, hundreds of thousands of books will reach the hands, hearts and minds of young readers.”
Collins Learning m.d. Colin Hughes added: “We are delighted to be working with The Sun to bring our world-leading Big Cat reading series to primary schools throughout the land. What better way to seed a love of reading, and at the same time give your child the best start on their learning journey? Our high hope is that every UK school will take this incredible opportunity to top up their book boxes for free.”
Schools are asked to register at a dedicated Books for Schools website, collect 3,500 tokens from the paper between 23rd November and 18th January and post them before 8th February.