We are thrilled to be able to announce that we have been gifted £1 million by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.
This major gift, which is the last of a series of five gifts to mark the Paul Hamlyn Foundation's 25th anniversary celebrations, will support the expansion of our work with young people and libraries into a new Reading Activists Challenge reaching 95,000 young volunteers across the country. It means that thousands more young volunteers will be inspired to get active in their communities, through reading and libraries and supporting younger children.
Thanking the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Miranda McKearney says: "The Paul Hamlyn Foundation's recognition of the charity's work through this astoundingly generous anniversary gift is deeply heartening. It will help us work with community partners like libraries to inspire thousands more young people to become active citizens and enthusiastic readers. Enjoying reading is a vital engine for social mobility and the acquisition of literacy skills. Children who enjoy reading can better overcome a disadvantaged start in life - because everything changes when we read."
Commenting, Martin Brookes, Director of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, said: "The Paul Hamlyn Foundation exists because of books, and because Paul Hamlyn combined his ability to sell them in large numbers with his passion for social justice. It is fitting that our final anniversary gift should so neatly reflect the link between reading and social change.
"All our anniversary gifts have been about helping people to realise their potential, and we look forward to seeing this gift to The Reading Agency helping many thousands of young people get into reading and volunteering."
The gift was announced at a reception at No. 11 Downing Street to mark the launch of The Summer Reading Challenge which we run in partnership with public libraries. The reception was sponsored by John Laing.
Some of the young Reading Activists joined Frances Osborne and Summer Reading Challenge author champions including Children's laureate Malorie Blackman, authors Cressida Cowell, Liz Pichon and Chris Riddell alongside senior librarians, publishers, cultural leaders, educationalists, MPs and local councillors, to celebrate the vital work that libraries and young people are doing with the Summer Reading Challenge to encourage children's enjoyment and motivation around reading. This year's Summer Reading Challenge theme is Creepy House illustrated by award winning Chris Riddell.
Research shows that the Summer Reading Challenge increases children's reading range, improves their enjoyment and motivation and crucially helps prevent that summer 'dip' at a time when literacy levels fall and when disadvantaged children can drop seriously behind.
At the Number 11 Downing Street event Malorie Blackman chaired a Q&A session with three inspirational young people from Havering and Hounslow who have benefited from Summer Reading Challenge volunteering.
Malorie Blackman says: "I have pledged to use my time as the Waterstones Children's Laureate to highlight the vital importance of libraries to children's lives and I couldn't be more thrilled to be a Summer Reading Challenge Champion. I'm so impressed by these young people who are giving up their time to support their libraries and communities through the brilliant Reading Activists programme - their help in getting thousands of children to fall in love with reading is inspirational."
Children can sign up to the Summer Reading Challenge at their local library. Young people can also sign up to be Summer Reading Challenge volunteers at their library.
If you're a parent you can keep up to date with news from the Summer Reading Challenge by visiting our facebook page.
Librarians can log-in to our resources page to download resources such as logos, training material for staff and activity sheets for children.
Reading more about what Reading Activists been getting up to recently and find your nearest Reading Activists group.