By Julia Fitzpatrick
Aldi has announced the launch of a campaign to get British children reading during their summer holiday. The retailer will give away over 100,000 books to young people. These books are published by Macmillan Children’s Books. The charity, Magic Breakfast, which provides free breakfasts to school children in disadvantaged areas, will support their distribution. Giles Hurley, CEO of Aldi in the UK and Ireland, has expressed excitement about the initiative, declaring that “every child deserves to experience the magic of reading.”
The campaign has been launched against a backdrop of growing concern about falling literacy rates amongst British children. Staggering findings by the National Literacy Trust reveal that one in seventeen children does not own a single book. Aldi’s own research has shown that, in the opinion of 90% of charity professionals, children’s literacy abilities have declined over the course of the pandemic. The campaign aims to tackle this reading crisis by providing children with books to fall in love with.
Specifically, Aldi’s reading drive has recognised reading as an access issue and identified improving literacy rates as a means of empowering struggling communities. Steven Bartlett, from Dragon’s Den, has declared his support for the initiative, saying that having “books at home whilst growing up is something that a lot of us take for granted, unaware of just how many kids in this country aren’t as fortunate.” The campaign aims to shed a light on disparities in education, with Giles Hurley identifying the need to “raise awareness … so that those that are in the fortunate position to do so, have the chance to help.”
The Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford has also thrown his support behind Aldi’s reading campaign. Rashford is the narrator of a short animation commissioned by Aldi. My Reading Journey, illustrated by Lisa Stickley, is an uplifting tale of the transformative importance of children’s books. Rashford has spoken of his own journey with reading as he only started reading as a teenager and wishes he could have experienced the “escapism and joy” of a good book earlier in life. It is important, Rashford believes, “that children can see a world much bigger than what they see on their doorstep, and that can be achieved through books.”
Aldi has encouraged members of the public to get involved in the reading drive, and a donation of £5 could provide a child with two books. The details are available here.