Welsh authors get behind National Literacy Trust’s four-day Christmas campaign
30 Nov 2016
Children’s authors from across Wales have rallied to support the National Literacy Trust’s Christmas campaign, which will raise funds to help disadvantaged children in Swansea discover a love of reading. A National Literacy Trust survey of over 2,000 Welsh schoolchildren has found that nearly half (43.5%) say they don’t enjoy reading, and just 40.1% read daily outside of school.
The National Literacy Trust is taking part in the Big Give’s Christmas Challenge, which runs from 29 November to 2 December and will see every donation made over this four-day period doubled. This year, the National Literacy Trust will be using the money raised to fund its Gift of Reading Programme in Swansea schools.
The Gift of Reading programme motivates children from disadvantaged backgrounds to read for pleasure. Children taking part in the project are able to choose free books of their own to take home throughout the year, and teachers and schools are trained in how to foster a love of reading in their pupils.
A number of popular Welsh children’s authors, including Rhian Ivory, Malachy Doyle, Eloise Williams, Dan Anthony and Huw Davies, have thrown their support behind the campaign and are encouraging the Welsh public to follow their lead and donate. Firefly Press, an award-winning children’s publisher in Wales, is also supporting the campaign.
Boots UK are also backing the campaign, with 15 Boots stores in and around Swansea holding in-store book sales to raise money for the campaign. Boots Opticians Wales will also be holding fundraising events in their Welsh stores in the lead up to the campaign, selling trolley tokens to customers.
The Library of Wales publisher Parthian, based in West Wales, is also holding a book sale at Swansea University during the Big Give, with all proceeds going to the Gift of Reading programme.
Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust, said: “Our research shows that when children enjoy reading, they do better at school and more opportunities are open to them later in life. With the money raised across the four day campaign, we want to introduce more Swansea pupils to the joy of reading and help unlock their full potential. We’re delighted that so many fantastic Welsh authors are backing us for this campaign, and we’re urging everyone to capitalise on this small window and donate during the four days to have your money doubled.”
Jayne Lewis, Literacy Coordinator at Waun Wen, a Swansea primary school who took part in the Gift of Reading programme for the last three years, said: “We had a fantastic three years working with the National Literacy Trust, and over 100 children at our school benefitted from choosing their own books of interest to them. They loved having books to keep! We know it had a real impact on reading for enjoyment at our school, both at school during peer reading sessions, and at home. We set up peer reading with family groups and nurture groups to inspire the children to read together at home and we all appreciated being part of the programme.”
Rhian Ivory, a Swansea-born children’s author who is nominated for the CILIP Carnegie medal 2017, said: "I was born in Swansea and my brother went to Swansea University, and we were both lucky enough to be brought up in a house full of books; but to read National Literacy Trust research which shows that one-third of disadvantaged children are leaving primary school unable to read well shocks me. By donating to the Big Give I know I will be helping to give children in Swansea the chance to own books of their own, and in my opinion there's no better gift to give this Christmas."
Eloise Williams, children’s author based near Swansea, said: "I am so thrilled to support the National Literacy Trust campaign. Now, more than ever, it is so important to educate our young people. Reading gives them knowledge, empathy, confidence and the freedom to make choices. I work with lots of children throughout Wales promoting the importance of reading for fun and the happiness it brings me to see them enjoying a good book is magical. The thought of young people in Swansea being encouraged to read through the work of this campaign is the best Christmas gift I could possibly hope for."
Penny Thomas, founder of Firefly Press, said: “A love of books and reading from an early age can open up whole worlds of imagination and learning, and it's fantastic that this four-day National Literacy Trust campaign is focusing on books for children in Wales. Firefly's Dragonfly books for younger readers are set all around Wales so that children here can enjoy stories from down the road or around the corner and realise that adventures don't always have to happen somewhere else.”
The National Literacy Trust’s Big Give Christmas campaign will take place between 29 November and 2 December. To double your donation, visit www.literacytrust.org.uk/thebiggive.
Further quotes from authors:
Malachy Doyle, award-winning Welsh children’s author, said:
“Reading can open up a world of possibilities. Books can bring joy and wisdom, escape and entertainment. Developing the habit of reading can enrich our lives beyond measure. Fiction can help us to understand where we fit into the world and to see how we might begin to make it better. It helps to give us a pride in ourselves, and compassion for others. But, most of all, it's FUN!”
Huw Davies, teacher and children’s author, said:
'As a teacher I know that real books make a real difference to disadvantaged children - donate to the National Literacy Trust and give someone the Gift of Reading!'
Laura Sheldon, author of children’s books set in Swansea, said: 'Giving a child a book is giving them an opportunity to glimpse another world. It's opening their eyes to possibilities, ideas, challenges and experiences that may otherwise be out of their reach. Through books children can learn to love language and explore stories and emotions; they can enter worlds without limits and fire their imaginations. And every time a story is read it is new. The reader brings their experiences, understanding and perspective to the story, making it their own and painting new pictures in their minds. Reading stories is a powerful thing; it creates understanding, educates and encourages empathy. '
Dan Anthony, Welsh children’s author and script writer, said: 'Books are gateways into new worlds for young reason, they affirm our right to imagine, they bring self-confidence and independence. They are the reason why education is important.'
 National Literacy Trust, Annual Literacy Survey 2015.