The new initiative, Connecting Stories, has been funded by the Arts Council, and will focus on 14 regional target areas
The National Literacy Trust is launching a new initiative called Connecting Stories: 'to address the literacy attainment gap and support the wellbeing of children and young people across the charity’s 14 Hub areas, thanks to funding from Arts Council England,' according to a statement from the charity.
Connecting Stories aims to increase children, and young people’s, access to literary experiences and books; the charity will 'engage with its network of publishing partners and authors, and work closely alongside local organisations with ties to the Hub areas over the next year. The hub areas are: Bradford, Birmingham, Doncaster, Hastings, Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire Coast, Nottingham, Peterborough, Stoke-on-Trent, Swindon, Manchester, North East, Blackpool, and The Black Country.
'Through a calendar of tailored community-driven activities the initiative will develop reading skills and creative writing abilities, helping to provide better life chances. The community-first approach hopes to grow local demand for ongoing reading activities to support children and families who may not see themselves as readers to become regular readers.' Activities will include creative writing competitions, author visits, book donations to schools, walk and talk trails and exhibitions.
'To achieve this, a key focus of the initiative is to help improve attitudes and behaviours towards reading for pleasure, in diverse, disadvantaged communities where the impact of Covid-19 has been most acute. This follows research from the National Literacy Trust which shows that children who enjoy reading are three times more likely to read above the level expected for their age as those who don’t enjoy reading.'
Sarah Crown, director of Literature, Arts Council England, said: "This year has been extraordinarily disruptive. At times like these, books and reading can offer both emotional succour and a means of developing critical skills and engagement that will allow those communities most heavily impacted by the pandemic to recover and flourish in its wake.
"This a profoundly important, potentially transformative project, which rightly places local communities at its heart – and Arts Council England is proud to support the National Literacy Trust to work with regional artists, publishers, and councils in order to deliver it."
Jonathan Douglas, chief executive of the National Literacy Trust (pictured), said: "Connecting Stories will help support the literacy of those in communities facing the most significant literacy challenges. We are delighted to have been successful in our bid to Arts Council England to enable us to further our work with our publishing partners and bring a new and exciting initiative in creative writing and reading across our Hub areas.
"Arts Council England’s 10-year strategy, Let’s Create, aligns with our focus, advocating for an arts and culture sector which can work in the country’s most disadvantaged communities on place-based initiatives. We are incredibly proud to be bringing Connecting Stories to life."