Penguin Random House announces two-year partnership with National Literacy Trust to tackle urgent social mobility issues


Penguin Random House UK has today (12 July) announced a two-year partnership with the National Literacy Trust, an independent charity dedicated to transforming lives through literacy. This partnership underscores Penguin Random House’s commitment to improving social mobility in the UK, in support of our wider mission to help close the creativity gap.

Literacy continues to be one of the major and most urgent barriers facing social mobility in the UK. Research from the National Literacy Trust currently shows that:

  • One in six adults in England and Northern Ireland currently lack the literacy skills expected of an 11 year-old.
  • In England, struggling to read is more closely linked to the risk of being unemployed than in any other developed country.
  • For children, England is also one of the most unequal countries in terms of children’s reading levels, second only to Romania in the EU.
  • The gap between the strongest and weakest readers is equivalent to seven years of schooling. Children living in poverty face a much greater risk of falling behind than their peers.

Using the power of books, Penguin Random House wants this partnership to give thousands of disadvantaged children, young people and families in the UK’s poorest communities the skills and creativity to help them get a job, escape poverty and be successful in life. To deliver on this ambition, we are supporting a number of different initiatives run by the charity through an extensive colleague volunteering programme, colleague fundraising, and a goal to donate 150,000 books to National Literacy Trust hubs in disadvantaged areas across the UK.

penguin random house national literacy trust partnership
penguin random house national literacy trust partnership

One area of support will see Penguin Random House fund 12 National Literacy Trust programmes to be delivered by colleagues at schools local to its offices in London and warehouses in Frating and Grantham, starting in 2019. These programmes, which will focus on disadvantaged primary and secondary schools that would benefit the most from additional support, will include:

  • Early Words Together – working with parents of two- to five-year-olds so they can support their child’s communication, language and literacy development at home.
  • Young Reader’s Programme – helping primary school children discover a love of reading through a series of fun events and book gifting.
  • Words for Work – improving young people’s communication skills to prepare them for success when entering the workplace.

Colleague input and involvement will form the basis of the partnership, and we will be holding brainstorming sessions for colleagues to share their ideas about future activities.

We already have a longstanding relationship with the National Literacy Trust and have supported the charity on several initiatives for a number of years. The publisher is a signatory for the Vision for Literacy pledge which asks businesses to commit to championing reading and literacy both in their workforce and their local communities. It was also a founding partner of Read North East, a campaign led by the National Literacy Trust to raise literacy levels in the North East where 17% of the population aged 16 to 65 have literacy skills at or below those expected of an 11-year-old.

penguin random house national literacy trust partnership

Tom Weldon, CEO of Penguin Random House UK, said: “After a long relationship with the National Literacy Trust, we are very pleased to establish a formal partnership and expand our efforts to tackle the current literacy crisis. The stark figures on the implications of low literacy on social mobility underline just how important an issue this is for the future of the UK. It also plays a major role in what we call the creativity gap, which exists because of social and economic inequality across the country, and which we as a publisher have a mission to help close.”

Jonathan Douglas, Director, National Literacy Trust, said: “We are thrilled that Penguin Random House has chosen the National Literacy Trust as its Charity of the Year. We already have a strong and established relationship driven by a shared commitment to get more children reading. We are looking forward to building on this as we embark on our two-year partnership.

“Poor literacy creates significant barriers in life for millions of disadvantaged people in the UK. Working together with Penguin Random House we can transform the lives of thousands of children and young adults from the most deprived communities, giving them the literacy skills they need to succeed and helping to improve social mobility in the UK.”

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