WITH money tight and schools and libraries shut, thousands of children are going without a bedtime story.
So today The Sun on Sunday is launching our Books For Kids campaign — to bring the joy of reading to more families during lockdown.
Running for the next four weeks in conjunction with BookTrust — the UK’s largest children’s reading charity — we want YOU to send us your old children’s books, no matter how ripped and tatty.
The Sun on Sunday will then pay to recycle them before BookTrust begins free distribution of bright and colourful new publications carefully chosen by its children’s books experts.
They will be passed on to youngsters who need them most via schools, children’s centres, food banks, refuges and family support teams.
You can post your old books or send them via a special 70 per cent discounted Hermes collection service without leaving your home.
Kids’ author and Britain’s Got Talent judge David Walliams is backing our campaign.
Click here to find out more about our Books For Kids campaign
The 49-year-old, who is dad to Alfred, seven, said: “Reading is so important for children. It encourages empathy, improves learning and offers a chance to escape to the far reaches of our imagination.
“Some of my fondest memories are of reading with my parents, and it is devastating to think some families across the country don’t have access to books.
“I wholeheartedly support this campaign to bring stories to families who need them the most.”
New dad and TV host Dermot O’Leary, 47, who has written the Toto The Ninja Cat children’s book series, also praised our “genius” campaign.
He said: “For reading to become a habit, the books must be easy to access.
"The Sun on Sunday’s campaign is genius — getting books to children stuck at home is so important.
“Reading is escapism, and we all need that at the moment.”
How you can help
YOU can either post your old books or send them via Hermes.
The courier company, which delivers in excess of 630million parcels a year in the UK, has agreed to deliver the packages at the reduced cost of £1.99 for a medium-sized box (66cm x 41cm x 38cm maximum, with maximum weight of 5kg).
Hermes UK CEO Martijn De Lange said: “We are delighted to be supporting The Sun on Sunday and BookTrust by making our nationwide network of local couriers and local ParcelShops and Lockers available to accept these books. This is a fantastic campaign.”
SENDING BY POST
The address to send your old books to is: Books For Kids, PO Box 485, Grays, Essex RM17 7HY.
SENDING BY HERMES
Go to myhermes.co.uk and select “Return A Parcel”. Search for “The Sun on Sunday” and click on The Sun on Sunday logo.
Enter “books” in the order ID field, enter your email address (they need this to send you the postage label) and choose “other” for your reason to return. Choose from ParcelShop drop-off (no printer needed) or courier collection (home printer needed).
Pay the £1.99 via debit card and you will receive an email with details of how to print your label at home (if you have chosen a courier collection).
Or if you have chosen ParcelShop drop-off, take your phone or tablet and your parcel to your nearest Hermes ParcelShop, show the shopkeeper the QR code on the email – and your label can be printed in the shop and attached to your parcel.
Hermes has more than 5,000 ParcelShops and Lockers.
To find your nearest Hermes ParcelShop, just enter your postcode in the Hermes ParcelShop finder on the website – myhermes.co.uk.
Studies show that reading for pleasure can drastically improve a child’s mental health.
And reading from a young age can encourage a love of books that stays for life.
Each year, BookTrust reaches 3.9million children across the UK with books, resources and support to get youngsters turning pages.
But there is still a shortage of reading material for children who desperately need it.
During the first lockdown, The National Literacy Trust found that a lack of access to books had negatively affected kids.
But their enjoyment of reading — when they could get a book — had increased, from 48 per cent pre-lockdown to 56 per cent now.
TV presenter Konnie Huq, 45, is a kids’ author and mum of two.
She said: “I’m so on board with this brilliant campaign. We need to do everything to ensure that all children have access to books.
“Parents are struggling with home-schooling, but if your child is reading, or you are sharing stories together, that’s literacy covered.
“The fact that The Sun on Sunday is recycling old books is also brilliant as it gives parents the chance to have a good clear-out.”
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson gave his backing, too.
He said: “Books fire a child’s imagination, improve literacy and open doors to new worlds, not to mention the positive impact they can have on mental health.
"That is why we put such an emphasis on reading in schools and why I support this campaign.”
The books we will be sending out include: Can You See Me, by Libby Scott and Rebecca Westcott; Billy And The Dragon, by Nadia Shireen; Real-Life Disasters, by Susan Martineau and Vicky Barker; and Splish Splash Ducky!, by Lucy Cousins.
This is vital for levelling up
By Justine Greening
AS a child I loved reading. Getting caught up in a story was how I lost myself from whatever else was going on in the rest of my life.
Books were how I learnt about places and times that I’d never experienced, and about new ideas.
And we know that the more reading children do, the better their vocabulary, language and writing.
Having access to books is crucial for helping their mental health too.
National Literacy Trust research shows that children’s enjoyment of reading rose during the lockdowns.
This is why it’s so important that our children can still get the books they want to read, even though our schools and libraries are shut.
It’s fantastic that The Sun on Sunday is teaming up with BookTrust on its Books For Kids Campaign so all our children can still get books they’d love to read.
Good literacy is key to levelling up our country and at the heart of new Levelling Goals I am launching.
It’s a framework for closing the opportunity gaps that open up.
Whatever Covid’s terrible legacy, we will only meet those challenges by building a country with everyone able to be at their best. That starts with our children’s education.
- Justine Greening was Education Secretary from 2016 to 2018 and is co-founder of the Social Mobility Pledge.
BookTrust found in April 2020 that screen time had increased by two hours a day for primary school children since lockdown began while 28 per cent of parents of four to 11-year-olds “never” read bedtime stories.
Diana Gerald, BookTrust CEO, said: “The past ten months have been really hard for families and children. Reading is such a great way for children to relax, get off those screens and it’s great for their education, too.
“We are really pleased to be partnering with The Sun on Sunday to get books into the hands of children who really need them.”
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