This International Literacy Day we are celebrating the power of small changes

By Jonathan Douglas CBE, Chief Executive of the National Literacy Trust

Today marks International Literacy Day, a UNESCO-designated awareness moment that champions the importance of literacy as a basic right. It also offers a great chance to take stock of the current state of literacy in the UK. 

This is the second International Literacy Day since COVID-19. This time last year we were seeing publication of the first worrying data describing the pandemic’s impact  on education. Unfortunately these early predictions of an increased attainment gap between children from low-income backgrounds and their high-income peers are now being realised. In the first lockdown alone, a decade’s work to narrow the attainment gap was undone. .  

To make sense of the scale of this challenge, The National Literacy Trust has now launched a research ‘observatory’ to bring together the emerging evidence of the pandemic’s impact on literacy.

Much of the research we are drawing together shows that children who had good access to digital devices, books and paper, and confident parents experienced less of a negative effect on their learning during school closures.  Lockdown disproportionately impacted on the literacy of children from low-income homes. Without immediate action this risks exacerbating societal inequality for generations.

One small change right now can lessen this impact and transform a disadvantaged child’s future. Simple access and ownership of books can transform a child’s enjoyment of reading, help them see themselves as a reader and supporting the development of vital literacy skills.  

Unfortunately, we know that 380,000 children and young people don’t own a single book. This is why our partnership with AwesomeBooks is so significant – every time someone buys a book on this website AwesomeBooks will gift us a book to be distributed to children and schools who need them the most.

The importance of owning a book can’t be overstated. It is a gateway to reading and for many children establishes their entitlement to literacy, giving them the skills to succeed at school, access that crucial first job and ultimately support their own child’s learning. 

What’s more, our research shows that reading doesn’t just support literacy and learning, it also boosts wellbeing and enables every child to dream about the future. Many of us needed that extra support and shot of optimism during the pandemic. 

We’d like to thank AwesomeBooks for their support and partnership with the National Literacy Trust. COVID-19 severely disrupted the literacy and learning of so many – but collaborations between the private, public and charity sectors have the power to really support the youngest generation as they try and recover from the shock waves of the pandemic. 

All AwesomeBooks customers can donate to us today and contribute to our ongoing work with schools, children, and families in the UK’s most socioeconomically disadvantaged areas. 

So, thank you AwesomeBooks, and happy International Literacy Day!

To browse millions of new and used books visit For every book you buy AwesomeBooks will donate a book to a child in need. Make an impact with every book and find out more about the Awesome Book for Book here.

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Inspire a love of reading at home this International Literacy Day

International Literacy Day is a significant day in the literacy calendar, and now more than ever, an important moment to highlight the significance of developing a love of reading from an early age. With 200,000 primary school children now leaving primary school without the recommended literacy levels for their age after missing out on classroom learning the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s crucial that families can make up for lost time from the comfort of their own homes.

Being able to read well isn’t just important for academic achievement. It will also help a child to make sense of the world, boost wellbeing and enable children to dream about their future. By reading together families will be boosting children’s imaginations and expanding their knowledge of the world.

The National Literacy Trust’s Words for Life site is filled with lots of book-inspired activities for families with children of all ages. At the peak of lockdown and while school were closed in January 2021, as many 112,000 unique users visited the site to discover storytelling videos, exclusive ebooks and tips to create the ideal reading space. The charity’s research found that as many as 1 in 3 children were reading more during lockdown and 59% of children said that it made them feel happier too.

The National Literacy Trust recommends the following Words for Life reading activities to help your child discover the joy of reading and improve their learning:

Cosy book time

It’s never too early to introduce babies to books. This activity suggests sharing picture books with the very youngest children and creating a comfortable space for them to listen to stories. There’s also a handy video which shows real-life families demonstrating the activity themselves.

Read and explore I Am Perfectly Designed

I Am Perfectly Designed by Karamo Brown is a book about the celebration of the love between parent and child. On this page, children are introduced to the book with a special storytelling video and once they’re hooked, there are additional activities to try that will help parents and little ones to bond and appreciate the book even more.

What should I read next? book list

For children who have already shown an interest in reading but stuck for what to try next, this book list suggest titles suitable for children aged 3 to 12 based on their existing reading habits.

Books to wind down

This activity encourages families to build reading into a daily bedtime routine. Not only will it allow children to look forward to hearing a story every night, they’ll also be getting used to a sense of order that will help with going to school. This page also includes a video with a real-life families having a go at the activity.

To discover more tips and activities to help children learn, please visit Words for Life.

To browse millions of new and used books visit For every book you buy AwesomeBooks will donate a book to a child in need. Make an impact with every book and find out more about the Awesome Book for Book here.