New Reading Fund Launches to 'Change the Story' for Disadvantaged Children
Supporters including James Patterson, Joanna Trollope, and Gaby Roslin back new fundraising drive
Celebrities, authors, businesses and key players in the publishing industry have come together to launch the Children's Reading Fund - a new fundraising drive which aims to 'change the story' for the UK's most vulnerable and disengaged children through the power of stories and reading.
Specifically targeting children aged between 4 and 11, the new Children's Reading Fund will use books and e-books, CDs, games and performance to inspire children to engage more with reading and writing and thus to change their own story.
Founding partners James Patterson - whose books have sold over 260 million copies worldwide in the past three years - and leading bookseller Waterstones, along with best-selling author Joanna Trollope and poet Lemn Sissay, TV presenters Cerrie Burnell, Dan Snow and Gaby Roslin are all backing the Children's Reading Fund, which hopes to raise £2 million over three years to support disadvantaged children in the UK. The campaign is also being supported by the Duchess of Cornwall, The View from the Shard, and Random House, in partnership with James Patterson; the much-loved children's literary characters Matilda, Zog and Tracy Beaker are fronting the campaign.
This project will extend the reach of the already successful Booktrust programmes which have helped thousands of children in the UK aged under 4. It will aim to support a further 12,000 children over the next three years aged between 4 and 11. Helping disadvantaged children is a key focus for the charity at a time when the number of children in care is rising and the average deaf child leaves school with a reading age of just nine. The project will support children in three key target groups: children in care, children with additional needs, such as those who are blind, deaf or partially-sighted, and children whose parents cant afford to provide access to books.
James Patterson, one of the best-selling authors in the world, said: 'If kids don't read their chances to grow and develop and have choices later in life are reduced significantly. That is why I'm on a mission to get kids reading. If I can help to make books and reading more important in children's lives, I'll be a happy man.'
James Daunt, Managing Director of Waterstones, said 'I speak for everyone at Waterstones when I say how delighted we are to support a cause as inspirational as the Children's Reading Fund.'
Our Patron, HRH, The Duchess of Cornwall said: 'It's hard to imagine a childhood without books. A world where Alice doesn't go to Wonderland, where Charlie doesn't visit the chocolate factory and where Harry Potter never discovers the magic of Hogwarts. Sadly, there are too many children in our country who have not been given the chance to discover the exciting new worlds books can open up, and having loved books all my life I feel passionately that I want others to share that passion too.
'That's why I'm proud to be the patron of Booktrust and proud to support their new Children's Reading Fund. The Fund will help bring the gift of reading to disadvantaged children across the country. It will help all those children to experience the joy that stories can bring and perhaps even give them a chance to change their own stories.'
You can help us change the story.
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The Children's Reading Fund will support children across the UK in three key target groups:
- Children in care - A child in care is more likely to go to prison than university. The number of children in care in England is rising and the Children's Reading Fund will allow Booktrust to expand its award winning programmes improving the educational outlook for children in care. Around 5,000 children in care are currently supported - only 10% of the total number.
- Children with additional needs - Cuts to public funding are increasingly putting children with additional needs at risk of exclusion: the average deaf child leaves school with a reading age of just nine. The Children's Reading Fund will allow for increased support for children with additional needs including blind, partially sighted and deaf children ensuring that they have the same opportunities as any other child.
- Socially or economically disadvantaged children - At a time when discretionary income for low and middle class families has evaporated and more and more families are struggling to make ends meet, The Children's Reading Fund will support parents and children for whom poverty is a barrier to reading and writing to ensure that access to books remains a child's universal right, not a luxury.
A donation of £11 per month ensures a child in care receives regular parcels with books, writing materials, CDs and games.