Shockingly, 1 in 17 children in the UK don’t own a single book – that’s over 413,000 children or 2 children in every class

Many of us cannot imagine not owning a book when we were growing up. However, shockingly, 1 in 17 children in the UK don’t own a single book – that’s over 413,000 children – or if you think about the average classroom setting, that equates to approximately two children in every class.

Child literacy levels were already in turmoil pre-pandemic, with data from the Department of Education revealing more than one in four 11-year-olds had below-expected reading levels in 2019.

With school closures during Covid-19, this has only worsened. New research, commissioned by Aldi, reveals that 90% of charity professionals believe that children’s reading abilities have declined since the start of the pandemic.

The research from Aldi reveals an even bleaker picture when looking specifically at children from disadvantaged families, with charity professionals estimating that almost 2 in 5 (37%) of the children they help do not own a book. This heart-breaking issue is only expected to deteriorate, as 83% anticipate the number of children without access to a book at home will increase over the next 12 months. As more families are forced to make everyday sacrifices, 100% of the charity professionals questioned, foresee that the wider cost-of-living crisis facing UK families will have a direct effect on children’s access to books.

To help more children experience the magic of reading, Aldi will donate over 100,000 books to children across the UK ahead of the school summer holidays, as the supermarket believes that, as with high quality, fresh food, access to books should be a right, not a privilege. The books will be produced by Macmillan Children’s Books and distributed with support from the charity Magic Breakfast, who provide free, nutritious breakfasts to children and young people at schools in disadvantaged areas to ensure no child is too hungry to learn. Additional copies will also be donated via giving platform, Neighbourly.

To encourage customers to help all children experience the escapism that reading can bring, Aldi has commissioned a touching animation narrated by footballer Marcus Rashford MBE – long term advocate for child equality and best-selling children’s author. The animation, “My Reading Journey”, beautifully illustrated by Lisa Stickley, brings to life how much joy reading can bring to a child, as the viewer watches a young boy’s world come alive after being gifted a book. View and download the animation here.

Marcus Rashford MBE, a strong supporter of Aldi’s campaign, comments, “I didn’t read properly until I was 17, and I don’t want that for others like me. The escapism and joy you can get from reading could have benefitted me significantly as a child. The issue was always access and representation – two areas that the Marcus Rashford Book Club focuses on. Struggling to put food on the table, there was very little money left for things like books so it’s great to see ALDI step up to address a growing need for access to books in communities just like mine. It’s important that children can see a world much bigger than what they see on their doorstep and that can be achieved through books. Thank you to all involved.”

Reading isn’t only important for children’s development and education, but also as a form of escapism. 83% of those asked strongly agreed that enjoying books and imaginative stories can help children to momentarily escape their day-to-day hardships and 97% believe reading has a positive impact on children’s mental health.

Acting as an ambassador for the campaign, Steven Bartlett commented, “Having access to 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. Looking towards the future, it is fundamental that all young people have access to books at home and that is why I am supporting this great initiative from ALDI. Most importantly to help them hone their reading skills and further education, but also so they can enjoy the escapism and immerse themselves in fictional worlds. No kids should be denied that right at home.” 

Giles Hurley, Chief Executive Officer at Aldi UK and Ireland, said, “At Aldi we believe that access to books, just like quality food should be a right, not a privilege; every child deserves to experience the magic of reading. Not only are we donating over 100,000 books to children that need them, this campaign also aims to help raise awareness of the increasing number of children who don’t have access to their own books at home so those that are in the fortunate position to do so, have the chance to help too.”

For more information and to donate a book to a child in need, visit the Aldi website.

Donating £5 will equate to approximately 2 books being gifted to children that need them this summer.


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