This World Book Day, Meadowhall is launching a community initiative to increase access to reading for disadvantaged school children in Sheffield.
The shopping centre is now calling upon members of the public to donate pre-loved or unwanted children’s books at special collections points - starting this Thursday and running until next Monday.
The donated books will be re-distributed to three local schools, which are part of Meadowhall’s Young Readers Programme, in partnership with The National Literacy Trust, with the aim of improving access to literacy to children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The call comes after research from The National Literacy Trust revealed that one in eight disadvantaged children don’t have a book of their own at home.
The report also revealed that children who have access to books are 15 times more likely to read above the level expected for their age, than peers who say they don’t own a book.
Children born into communities with serious literacy challenges are more likely to do worse in school, be less financially well-off and have poorer health - with life expectancy significantly lower than in areas with a higher incidence of literacy. With parts of Sheffield among the most illiterate in the country, Meadowhall has now committed to doing their part to ensure that as many children as possible in the city have access to reading materials, not only to boost skill development, but life outcomes too.
This is the 21st year there’s been a World Book Day, and this Thursday, children of all ages will come together to celebrate authors, illustrators, books and reading. Designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, it’s the biggest of its kind, marked in over 100 countries all over the world.
Centre director Darren Pearce said: “We know there are families within the communities surrounding Meadowhall where some children don’t even own a book at home.
“Reading has been proven to improve outcomes for young people - with high literacy linked to better job prospects later in life, a richer vocabulary, well developed empathy and ‘people skills’.
“We’d like to encourage people to donate their unwanted children’s books this World Book Day so we can improve the literacy skills - and lives - of as many local children as possible.”
Special collection points for the initiative will be set up in both of Meadowhall’s Waterstone’s stores, on Park Lane and The Arcade.