Publisher DK has donated over 1000 books to support The Reading Agency's Reading Sparks and Get Islington Reading programmes. 300 copies of Through the Animal Kingdom by Derek Harvey and Charlotte Pepper and 1000 copies of Crafty Science by Jane Bull, will be gifted to families as part of both the Reading Sparks and Get Islington Reading programmes, to encourage reading and science participation.
The publisher has been a partner in the development and design of Reading Sparks from the project's inception, and the collaboration with partner organisations helped The Reading Agency succeed in their bid to Arts Council England for project funding.
Both Get Islington Reading and Reading Sparks are exciting new programmes testing out different ways of increasing reading and building science confidence. DK's generous contribution will help us reach more families and try out different reading and science engagement approaches which will benefit children, young people and families across England.
Get Islington Reading is a three-year project generously funded by the Charity of Sir Richard Whittington, a charity run by the Mercers' Company. The programme will support families of children aged 9-14, inspiring young people to keep reading in the transition between primary and secondary school, whenreading for pleasure can often drop off. Research shows that the longer children can sustain a love of reading, the greater the benefits; 10-year-olds who enjoy reading have a reading age 1.3 years above their peers who don't enjoy reading. This rises to 2.1 years for 12-year-olds and 3.3 years for 14-year-olds.
The Reading Agency and the National Literacy Trust are working together with local partners including Islington Council Library Service, Islington School Improvement Service and Islington Education Library Service to develop a community of happy, confident readers across the borough, building on the work of local network Islington Reads. Get Islington Reading is encouraging reading for pleasure to change lives and increase the opportunities for young people. Crafty Science will be included in themed family reading boxes which will be distributed to Islington residents with children in the transition age-groups.
The Reading Sparks project is funded by Arts Council England and the Science and Technology Facilities Council. The project is testing and piloting new ways of using creative reading to increase STEM engagement. 11 pilot library service partners in England are distributing reading and STEM book and activity bags to families who have been particularly disadvantaged by the pandemici. Through The Animal Kingdom will be included in reading and science bags, along with fun activities to engage children and families in investigating the natural world. Crafty Science will be gifted to children who complete the bags, providing an additional incentive to participate and fostering continued engagement with practical science and reading as a follow-up activity.
In addition to library partners and publishers, The Reading Agency are also working closely with specialist science organisations to develop and deliver the programme. The young people's programme and the reading and STEM book and activity bags have been jointly designed with science education experts at NUSTEM at the University of Northumbria. The British Science Association, who are official partners to this project, will be recognising children and young people's achievements through their Crest Awards.
Karen Napier, CEO, The Reading Agency said:
"We're hugely grateful for the generous book donation from DK to our Reading Sparks and Get Islington Reading programmes. The Reading Agency are constantly trying to discover and develop new and innovative ways to share the proven power of reading, and these new initiatives this year have shown there is a real appetite among children and young people for exploring STEM engagement and reading participation. The encouragement and resources provided by the family reading boxes will benefit families across the country, and were delighted to have such a prominent publisher supporting our pilot programmes."
Paul Kelly, DK Group CFO & Strategy Director, said:
"We believe in creating books for everyone; books that explore ideas and nurture curiosity about the world we live in. We're excited to give our support to The Reading Agency as it tests out new approaches to engaging children and young people in reading and science, especially those who are experiencing disadvantage. We hope that the books we have gifted to Reading Sparks and Get Islington Reading provide a valuable contribution to sparking engagement in science and exploring new pathways to reading, helping to bridge the gap in science capital and reading engagement in communities across England. We look forward to seeing how these projects develop and grow over the next few years."
Both programmes will be testing approaches which The Reading Agency hopes to expand and roll out more widely in years to come. Support from publisher partners, including this very generous contribution from DK, means that The Reading Agency can continue to build and pilot ambitious programmes, increase its reach, and explore more ways in which reading can tackle life's big challenges.