Wednesday 16 January 2013

New reading fund launched to help disadvantaged children

Supporters including The Duchess of Cornwall, James Patterson, Joanna Trollope and Gaby Roslin are backing a new initiative called the Children’s Reading Fund, which aims to ‘change the story’ [all puns (c) the Children's Reading Fund] for the UK’s most vulnerable and disengaged children through the power of stories and reading.

Launching on Thursday 17th January, the Children’s Reading Fund is being created by Booktrust, the independent reading and writing charity. Booktrust is already responsible for a number of successful national reading promotions, sponsored book prizes and creative reading projects aimed at encouraging readers to discover and enjoy books. These include the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, the Children’s Laureate, and Bookstart, the national programme that works through locally based organisations to give a free pack of books to babies and toddlers, with guidance materials for parents and carers.

Specifically targeting children aged between 4 and 11, the 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 (in association with Random House) and Waterstones, along with author Joanna Trollope, 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 Booktrust Patron the Duchess of Cornwall and The View from the Shard. 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 can’t afford to provide access to books.
Viv Bird, Booktrust Chief Executive, said: 
Booktrust already supports some 5,000 children in care through The Letterbox Club and this has been incredibly successful. With this new Fund, we plan to extend our reach to include more children – those who are most disadvantaged in society: children in care, children who are blind or deaf, and those whose families simply can’t get access to books in these harsh economic times.
A donation of £11 per month ensures a child in care receives regular parcels with books, writing materials, CDs and games.
For more information and to donate, visit
Follow the project on Facebook at and Twitter, hashtag #changethestory.

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.

Text (c) Children's Reading Fund