Helping children fall in love with reading with British Land
Property company British Land is one of the signatories for the 2017 Vision for Literacy Business Pledge. Leading businesses have committed to helping raise literacy levels in the UK by taking clear action in three areas: within their workforce, in their local communities and at a national level.
British Land recently expanded its award-winning Young Readers Programme partnership with the National Literacy Trust to a record 28 shopping centres around the UK and office campuses in London.
The main objective of the programme is to encourage reading for enjoyment — taking literacy out of the classroom to help children fall in love with reading and develop their literacy skills. Research shows this can have a lifelong impact on health, confidence, employability and happiness[*].
More than 26,000 children have taken part in fun, educational literacy events at British Land’s properties since 2013. Here they enjoy behind the scenes tours of stores, listen to wonderful professional storytellers and take part in literacy-themed activities hosted by businesses in the shopping centres and office campuses. Recent examples include bookmark making with arts and crafts retailers, book to screen sessions in cinemas, pasta making in restaurants and badge designing in offices.
At these on-site events and in school, every child also receives training on how to choose books that are of interest to them and at the right level to encourage their enjoyment of reading. Children are then given the chance to use their new skills to select three new books to take home for free.
As part of this year’s programme, a Young Reading Hero competition ran in 15 locations. This recognised local children who had overcome issues with reading or who had gone above and beyond in helping or inspiring others to read. Prizes included National Book Tokens for the winners and their schools.
Charles Maudsley, Head of Retail, Leisure and Residential for British Land, said:
“The Young Readers Programme is a wonderful example of how we connect with our local communities and nurture strong community associations with our places, which has positive benefits for all concerned. In partnership with our occupiers, several of whom are also signatories to the Vision for Literacy pledge, we are delighted to be helping local children fall in love with reading and gain the literacy skills they’ll need to find meaningful employment later in life, and boost their confidence and happiness.”
Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust, said:
“We know that when children enjoy reading and have books of their own at home, they do better at school, at work and in life; yet a third of children left primary school last year unable to read well, rising to almost half of children from the poorest backgrounds. Our partnership with British Land takes us to the very heart of this issue, getting books in to the hands of the children who need them most. British Land has been the largest supporter of our Young Readers Programme since 2013, gifting more than 60,000 books to over 25,000 disadvantaged primary school children across the UK. For many, these were the first books the children had ever owned. We look forward to continuing our partnership with British Land over the coming years to inspire thousands more children to fall in love with reading for a lifetime.”
[*] Dugdale & Clark (2008); OECD (2009); Institute of Education (2013).