You are most likely reading this – and we’re so pleased that you are – without realising how lucky you are to be able to do so. Yes, this will turn into a great story, but that’s not what I mean.

According to Michael Gove, ‘more than a fifth of children’ leave primary school without reaching ‘a basic level of literacy and numeracy’: reading isn’t something we should ever take for granted, a fact which the National Literacy Trust is only too aware.

1 in 6 people in the UK struggle with literacy according to the National Literacy Trust (NLT). As a result, the NLT is dedicated to establishing literacy programs in disadvantaged communities and schools, and campaigning for awareness of their cause.

Kumon Educational, the UK’s largest supplementary education provider, has recognised the value of NLT’s contribution and has consequently nominated them to be its Corporate Social Responsibility Partner for 2014. Both organisations place a huge emphasis on the importance of children learning to read for pleasure; their shared values make them an inevitable partnership.

Together, NLT and Kumon are doing some wonderful things and making a huge difference to thousands of young lives, including their fundraising activities to raise as much money as possible to support children with literacy difficulties.

Among these fundraising activities was Kumon’s annual fun run. On Sunday 16 March, more than 1,200 people took part dressed in glasses, stripy red hats and jumpers, in accordance with the ‘Where’s Wally?’ theme of the day.

 Don't Be A Wally When It Comes To Reading

At varying speeds, the group of Wallys finished the five or 10km fun run with delight. Kumon UK’s Business Support and Legal Services Administrator, Mischa Kursar, said it was ‘a fantastic chance to get fit, raise money for the National Literacy Trust, and a brilliant excuse to dress up as a beloved children’s character.’

In just four months, the partnership has raised £9,000, and their fundraising efforts continue. A particularly creative project is NLT’s ‘Books about Town’, for which they are working with Wild in Art. The idea is to decorate benches around the streets of London so that they look like open books. The installations have been dotted around London this summer.

The initiative is designed to explore the city’s literary connections, and is part of the Kumon Summer Festival of Reading; Kumon has sponsored a Mary Poppins themed bench, designed by Central St Martins College of Art student, Darel Seow.

 Don't Be A Wally When It Comes To Reading

Darel explained his pleasure at helping to ‘incorporate fun into education’. Mary Poppins herself was at the bench on Sunday 6 July, where she gave away 100 copies of the much-loved children’s book by one of the nation’s favourite authors, P. L. Travers.

By bringing literature to the streets, the NLT and Kumon Educational are attempting to share a love of reading with children. This reflects their view that a love of reading from an early age allows kids the chance to discover more about the world around them and themselves as people, a greater empathetic understanding of different cultures, and the privilege of escapism.

Reading is also the foundation of education, which Kumon and the NLT firmly believe is the first step towards breaking the poverty cycle. In this way, both organisations are making a great difference to the lives of disadvantages children, one book at a time.

To find out more about the Kumon UK summer festival of reading, click HERE.

For more information about Kumon Educational click HERE.

To learn more about the National Literacy Trust please click HERE.

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Sophie Meadows started writing for Good News Shared during its early days, whilst studying English Literature at UCL. She loves theatre and collects ribbons.

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