Partners For Improving Literacy Throughout the U.K.
Country: Great Britain
Penguin Random House UK and the National Literacy Trust have signed a partnership. Together, they will tackle poor literacy in England, which is becoming more and more of a problem, and is often a major obstacle to getting a job and to social mobility. Numerous actions and extensive book donations are planned.
Just after winning an award for its efforts to increase social mobility within the company itself the British publishing group Penguin Random House UK is following this up by announcing a partnership with the National Literacy Trust, initially planned for two years. The partners aim to improve reading and writing skills in British society so as to increase social mobility and promote creative talent in socially disadvantaged groups.
Poor literacy is one of the biggest obstacles to social mobility in Britain. Research by the National Literacy Trust has shown that one in six adults in England and Northern Ireland currently lack the literacy skills generally expected of aneleven-year-old. Struggling to read is more closely linked to the risk of being unemployed here than in any other developed country. For children, the situation is even worse: England is also one of the most unequal countries in terms of children’s reading and writing skills, second only to Romania in the EU. Children from socially disadvantaged families are often almost illiterate. The gap between these kids and the strongest readers of the same age is equivalent to seven years of schooling.
This is, of course, not good news for a book publisher. And so Penguin Random House UK wants to use all the positive power of books to help thousands of children, young people and their families in the poorest social groups of the country to improve their reading skills in partnership with the National Literacy Trust in order to help them get a job and escape poverty. The publishing group intends to support or initiate a large number of charitable actions, including an extensive volunteering program for its own employees. Penguin Random House UK also plans to donate 150,000 books to this target group across the country.
One of the planned actions is Early Words Together, an initiative aimed at parents of two- to five-year-olds, so that they can support their child’s communication, language, and literacy development at home. The Young Reader's Program aims to stimulate elementary schoolchildren’s enthusiasm for reading with the help of a series of fun events. Words for Work aims to improve the reading skills of young adults to prepare them for success when entering the workplace. Many other actions will be added. Here, Penguin Random House is relying on the ideas and creative potential of its own employees and on the experience gained from years of successful collaboration with the National Literacy Trust in numerous individual projects.
Tom Weldon, CEO of Penguin Random House UK, says: “After a long relationship with the National Literacy Trust, we are very pleased to establish a formal partnership and expand our efforts to tackle the current literacy crisis. The stark figures on the implications of low literacy on social mobility underline just how important an issue this is for the future of the U.K. It also plays a major role in what we call the creativity gap, which exists because of social and economic inequality across the country, and which we as a publisher have a mission to help close.”
Jonathan Douglas, Director, National Literacy Trust, says: “We are thrilled that Penguin Random House has chosen the National Literacy Trust as its Charity of the Year. We already have a strong and established relationship driven by a shared commitment to get more children reading. We are looking forward to building on this as we embark on our two-year partnership.
“Poor literacy creates significant barriers in life for millions of disadvantaged people in the U.K. Working together with Penguin Random House we can transform the lives of thousands of children and young adults from the most deprived communities, giving them the literacy skills they need to succeed and helping to improve social mobility in the U.K.”