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The Literacy Project
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The Literacy Project

1.8 million disadvantaged children in the UK are unable to read properly. 1 in 7 adults in England lack the literacy levels expected of an 11-year-old. The link between low levels of literacy and poverty is stronger in England than it is in every other country in Europe with the exception of Romania. By 2025, low literacy will have cost the UK economy £32 billion.

What is The Literacy Project?

The project aims to match the unique assets of the publishing industry—people, authors and books—with localised initiatives and organisations to raise literacy levels through targeted and concentrated action. The mission is to drive up low levels of literacy and social mobility in the UK’s poorest communities.

How will it work?

A publisher (or group of publishers working together) will identify a community in need. They will then work with the National Literacy Trust to connect with local literacy networks and programmes, using their assets to support existing initiatives in the area and launch new ones. Concentrated and targeted effort over time will achieve swift and effective outcomes.

How can I get involved?
  1. Step One Choose from the existing list of carefully researched and curated literacy and social mobility cold spots or select your own community with which to work, based on your own criteria.
  2. Step Two Contact the Publishers Association and the National Literacy Trust to brainstorm the objectives, budget, and scope of the work.
  3. Step Three You will be connected to a range of partners, networks and organisations to start mobilising your activity.
  4. Step Four The evaluation process will assess what impact you have made on your chosen area.
What will it entail?

Your project will involve mobilising your resources through a series of initiatives, projects and activities across a range of partnerships , including early years providers, schools, libraries, prisons, and youth offender institutions, to help raise literacy levels in your chosen area. We encourage a minimum commitment of 1–3 years to make a meaningful difference.

What can you do?
  • Encourage your authors and illustrators to visit schools and other partner locations in your chosen area.
  • Work in partnership with businesses, sports clubs and media groups to create a whole city reading initiative.
  • Encourage book ownership by providing free books, book exchanges and competitions.
  • Bring books into non-traditional settings such as sports clubs or medical centres.
  • Create school library funds.
  • Create bespoke activity, competitions and visits in your partnership area around key local moments, such as World Book Day and the Summer Reading Challenge.
  • Work with secondary schools to create employability sessions and work experience schemes.
  • Volunteer or fundraise from your office to support local activities and new programmes.
  • Join or sponsor a new volunteering scheme.
The National Literacy Trust priority areas

The National Literacy Trust has created a list of locations around the country to help publishers target their work to raise literacy levels. The areas listed below vary in size from an entire city to a small cluster of schools in need of help.

  • Bradford
  • Dundee
  • Manchester
  • Middlesbrough
  • Nottingham
  • North Yorkshire Coast
  • Peterborough
  • Hastings

The list has been compiled based on several sources of information including: deprivation statistics from the Indices of Multiple Deprivation, ward level literacy needs analysis developed by Experian for the National Literacy Trust, and experience from the National Literacy Trust programme teams of working in different areas.

Get in touch

Contact Ruth Howells to discuss ways you can get involved in the project.

Ruth Howells
Head of Communications
The Publishers Association
Tel: 020 7089 5829
Mob: 07827 089 058