Read for Good Impact Report (2022)

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Impact Report Spring 2022

Welcome masks, how to socially distance. Like me, all children were for some time cut off from their friends and life as they knew it.

In March 2020 I became very ill with Covid. When I woke up 40 days later I began a long journey to recovery. I had to learn how to do simple things I’d always taken for granted; I had to learn how to walk again. Our children have been through a similar experience, learning how to do things differently how to be at school while at home and then how to return to school, how to live without seeing their family and friends, how to deal with isolation, how to wear

For over a million children in hospital each year, this experience is normal. So imagine how much worse it has been for them during the pandemic. Staff run ragged, no toys and few visitors allowed, seeing everyone in PPE. Their increased anxiety and isolation must have been hard to bear, on top of the double jeopardy of illness and loss of education. Read for Good responded to the pandemic swiftly like many charities, ensuring its treasured supply of books reached children in hospital when little else was available. It changed how it supported schools, providing events and online reading for pleasure resources for remote learning. It swiftly developed Track My Read®, a fantastic digital tool to help schools promote reading for pleasure remotely.

Like me, Read for Good believes that stories and reading can help all children recover from the impact Covid-19 has had on their education, their social development, their mental health and wellbeing. There is so much more to reading a book or listening to a story than simple distraction and entertainment: it narrows the education gap while broadening a child’s life skills, building empathy and understanding. But above all, a good story provides escape, friendship and reassurance. Stories comfort us because they show us we are not alone. They give us hope and courage. Books are a great place to be. When children read for pleasure, their lives can change for the better, whether at home, at school or in hospital. I urge you to support the important work of Read for Good.

“Books are a great place to be.”


Readathon works

Michael Rosen Author and Children’s Laureate 2007-2009



Stories matter ...............................................................................................................12

The Covid crisis .............................................................................................................04

Working in partnership ..............................................................................13

Reading is vital to recovery ...............................................................05

Financial overview ...............................................................................................14

Hospital heroes ..........................................................................................................06

Transforming lives ...............................................................................................14

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The Covid crisis Responding swiftly and effectively to the emerging crisis in schools and hospitals became our priority during the pandemic The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the education and mental health of many children and young people in the UK, particularly those already disadvantaged for socioeconomic or health reasons. As hospitals and schools were plunged into an unprecedented crisis, at Read for Good we swiftly adapted our programmes to meet the changing needs. In hospitals, our new books and virtual storytelling sessions have been crucial to help combat children’s exacerbated isolation and anxiety. Schools required practical ways to encourage reading at home, and children needed access to great books.

Digital adoption created opportunities to reach children in lockdown: We produced and promoted access to a wide range of author and illustrator events to support reading for pleasure at home l

We rapidly developed Track My Read®, a free web-based app to encourage daily reading and provide useful reading insights l

We created a free, easy-access storytelling training programme for medical professionals working with children, helping to improve the clinical encounter l

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An extra 25,052 books worth £143,422 sent to 452 schools in need since March 2020

Plus 25,634 books to children in hospital in 2021/22, maintaining our essential service

Reading is vital to recovery Reading is nothing short of life changing. Children who read for pleasure are more likely to do well in school,1 have better paying jobs,2 and better health and wellbeing.3 For children living in poverty or at risk of adverse childhood experiences, reading can be a literal escape route,4 offering both immediate relief and alternative pathways in life. A disadvantaged child who reads will outperform an advantaged child who doesn’t.5 Reading for pleasure serves more than academic and professional success. It can play a significant role in tackling our burgeoning mental health crisis; research shows the positive benefits reading for pleasure has on the emotional health of people of all ages, especially children, alleviating symptoms of stress, isolation and depression.6 Reading also enhances social engagement and personal development,7 helping children to better understand the world around them, and improving citizenship.

In a rapidly changing world presenting new challenges daily for children and their carers, Read for Good strives to deliver relevant researchinformed interventions that make a real difference.

Narrowing the gap With disadvantaged pupils experiencing up to a seven month dip in achievement since the pandemic and a widening gap with their more advantaged counterparts, the activities that young people choose to do in their free time will make the difference between catching up and remaining behind. There is now an urgent need to aid children’s recovery and our research shows that the founding principles of Read for Good - to build a love of reading through choice, freedom and motivation - can play a vital role in that process.

“Reading stories... is a ‘social vaccination’ against all the restrictions because they help children find a way to exit what Covid put into play.” Prisco Piscitelli, UNESCO Chair on Health Education and Sustainable Development 1. Department for Education (2012) Research evidence on reading for pleasure. 2. Kerr, M.E. & Franklin, J. (2021) The economic cost of early vulnerable language skills. A report by Pro Bono Economics. 3. The Reading Agency (2015) Literature Review: The impact of reading for pleasure and empowerment June 2015. 4. OECD (2002) Reading for Change: Performance and Engagement across countries: Results from PISA 2000. 5. OECD (2002) Reading for Change: Performance and Engagement across countries: Results from PISA 2000. 6. The Reading Agency, with BOP Consulting (2015) The impact of reading for pleasure and empowerment 2015. 7. Howard, V. (2011) The importance of pleasure reading in the lives of young teens: Self-identification, self-construction and self-awareness. The Journal of Librarianship and Information Science.

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Read for Good in hospitals

Hospital heroes Covid restrictions in hospitals have made life even harder for young patients - books and stories are helping Our hospital programme, funded in part by Readathon, normally provides 27,000 brand new books and storyteller visits throughout the year, to around 150,000 of the UK’s most seriously ill children in all 30 of the UK’s major children’s hospitals. Children in hospitals are superheroes at the best of times but the pandemic has posed an even greater challenge for them and their families - nursing staff wearing PPE, invasive Covid checks, lack of visitor access, playroom and hospital school closures restricting children to their beds, and toys removed to limit the spread of infection. With few Covid-compliant resources available, and almost all non-essential services cancelled or curtailed, our brand new books have supported children’s disrupted learning, provided a much-needed escape from the four walls of the hospital and helped reduce the feelings of isolation and anxiety.

“Huge thanks to Read for Good for making sure we had a plentiful supply of brand new, quality books delivered to the hospital. Escaping into a good story matters now more than ever and each book has the potential to completely transform a hospital stay.” Catherine Costello, Leader of Learning, Oxfordshire Hospital School, John Radcliffe Hospital

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Read for Good in hospitals

Storytelling training Since 2010, Read for Good has provided a professional storytelling service to children in hospitals across the UK. It’s not just about entertainment: our research evidences that a visit from our storyteller makes a child feel less anxious, more relaxed, and happier overall. Families feel the benefits too.

Because our storytellers can’t be in each and every hospital or medical setting, we created an easily accessible 30-minute training course to teach the art

of storytelling to anyone who works with children. Launched in Spring 2021, to date 256 professionals have registered for the training, including play specialists, paediatricians, PICU nurses, physiotherapists, radiologists and vaccinators.

“I use storytelling all the time now - picking up ideas and involving objects and people all the way from a child’s bedside to theatre.” Hospital play specialist

Virtual storytelling To enable hospital storytelling to continue during restricted visiting, our storytellers have been delivering sessions virtually, over video call, using the technology creatively to make these sessions fun and interactive for all involved. While we look forward to hospitals welcoming back our team in person, we know our sessions are still having a great impact in the children’s wards, providing much relief during a long and anxious hospital stay.

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Read for Good in schools

Readathon works Since 1984, children have loved reading with Readathon Our time-tested Readathon harnesses children’s empathetic nature, motivating them to read as much as they can to help buy books and storyteller visits for children in hospital. Pupils choose what they want to read, asking friends and family to sponsor them, encouraging them to read as much as they can to help others. Research shows that participating pupils enjoy reading more and are generally happier, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds (National Literacy Trust, 2018). Combined with free resources for teachers, amazing author events, and brand new books for the school library, Readathon offers schools a complete package of support enabling children to develop positive reading habits.

Free book vouchers worth £98,604 given to Readathon schools in partnership with Scholastic Book Clubs*

Across the UK, Readathon has reached an estimated 2,500 schools and 500,000 pupils*

“Readathon is all about encouraging an enthusiasm for reading, and reading for fun, all for a really good cause.” Mrs Elliott, English teacher, Penwortham Priory Academy

*Sept 2019-March 2022

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Read for Good in schools

Authors reach thousands of pupils Thanks to our long-standing partnerships with many publishers, authors and illustrators, we have produced and promoted a wide range of free author and illustrator events to support reading for pleasure at home, in schools and in hospitals. Facilitated by the rapid adoption of online events during the pandemic, we continue to deliver first-class events to schools and homes across the UK. Whether it’s Julia Donaldson reading one of her much-loved books, Catherine Rayner showing children how to draw, Bear Grylls inspiring pupils to never give up, or Michael Rosen delivering belly-laughs to classrooms full of children, our events bring the very best in children’s literature to young people across the UK.

“I love working with Read for Good to promote the magic of reading. Sharing the latest Wizards of Once title at a Readathon event, with thousands of children watching during lockdown was just wonderful.”

111,696 children from over 1,100 schools tuned into our Michael Rosen event, as he performed poems, and read from his latest book

Cressida Cowell, Read for Good patron and Children’s Laureate 2019-2022

World Book Day In swift response to the pandemic in March 2020, Read for Good worked with long-standing partner, World Book Day, to create mini-bookshops in schools. We supplied targeted schools with the whole range of special £1 books, allowing pupils to exchange their vouchers for the book of their choice. This ensured children, many of whom may not have been able to visit a bookshop, didn’t miss out on their free book. The project was so successful, it has been rolled out to more schools in 2022.

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Read for Good in schools

Track My Read When the previously unthinkable decision to close schools to most pupils was taken in March 2020, we felt compelled to find ways to support schools, parents and children at home with reading for pleasure. In May that year, we developed a prototype digital tool to help pupils record their reading, and for teachers to see their pupils’ reading choices. Schools responded so positively that we swiftly launched the web-based app Track My Read®. It’s proving to be an invaluable tool beyond lockdown, with thousands of pupils now using Track My Read®, providing valuable insights for teachers and parents, and added motivation for children to read regularly.

5.7 million reading minutes logged to date = nearly 11 years of reading

in May 2021 our research revealed an urgent need for high-quality, up-to-date reading material in school libraries across the UK, decimated by the pandemic. With school libraries still not statutory, book budgets being used to replace lost textbooks, and PTA funds diminished, buying great reading books has become impossible for many schools.

Brilliant Box of Books Our experience from 35 years of Readathon is that children read more when they read what they love. Research from

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Scholastic UK shows that they’re also five times more likely to finish a book they’ve chosen themselves. However,

Our Brilliant Box of Books programme provides schools and medical settings in need with carefully chosen books and comics. Initially started as an emergency response to the pandemic, this has developed into an ongoing programme to ensure that children have access to books they want to read.

Read for Good in schools

Citywide Readathons Our citywide programme brings the best of both Readathon and the hospital programme together: harnessing the enthusiasm of whole communities around a major children’s hospital to motivate even reluctant readers to give reading a go, getting books to disadvantaged children with little access to books and building a real buzz about books and the power of stories across a whole city. Working with local partners, our citywide Readathons have taken place in Leicester, Manchester and Liverpool, with Livepool’s fourth in 2022, engaging tens of thousands of children in reading for fun.

Since 2017, there have been eight citywide Readathons across three cities involving 312 schools and 108,715 pupils

“The increase in borrowing and the enthusiasm for reading across the school during Readathon was really amazing.”

Thousands of children have enjoyed over 30 virtual and in-person author and illustrator events

In 2022, Liverpool collectively read an amazing 2 million minutes for their citywide Readathon

In 2021 we launched READ Gloucestershire! - a comprehensive two-year programme in schools to support reading for pleasure in our county. We’re now looking forward to continuing the momentum already established to improve literacy in Gloucestershire in the coming years.

School Librarian, Liverpool

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Stories matter Helping the nation understand the many benefits of reading BBC Radio 4 Appeal In February 2022, the BBC broadcast Read for Good’s first ever Radio 4 Appeal, raising money for books and storyteller visits for children in hospital. The appeal was presented by Hannah, who movingly described how Read for Good’s books and storyteller helped |her teenage son, William, cope with his cancer diagnosis, and ongoing treatment. The Appeal, with £15,000 of match-funding from our partners The Booksellers Association and National Book Tokens, has raised over £50,000 to date.

BBC Children in Need In November 2019, we were delighted to be one of only a handful of charities featured on BBC Children in Need’s flagship show. Millions of viewers saw the impact our work has on the lives of children in hospital and their families, highlighting the profound impact books and stories can have on children.

As seen on

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Our BBC Radio 4 Appeal raised over £50,000 and promoted the importance of books and stories to an audience of millions

BBC One’s Morning Live In their end-of-series Christmas show, BBC One’s Morning Live programme showcased Read for Good’s work storytelling in hospitals. Presenters Gethin Jones and Kimberley Walsh

were given training and top tips by professional Read for Good storyteller Wilf Merttens and went on to create a story for 17 seriously ill children, beamed into the BBC studio from hospitals across the UK. Children were delighted with the Christmas story, and their smiles said it all!

Working in partnership Collaborating with authors, illustrators and publishers Read for Good believes in the power of partnerships - bringing like-minded organisations together to deliver more. We are incredibly grateful for the support of trusts and foundations, publishers, corporate partners, literacy and education charities, schools and hospitals, in helping to make our work even more effective.

Better together We pride ourselves on developing sustainable partnerships that provide a win-win for all involved. Here are some of our key collaborations.

At Read for Good we believe a child’s reading choices should be valued. For some, comics and magazines are a great route into reading, for others, they define what reading for pleasure is all about! The Phoenix donates unused comics to Read for Good so that we can share them with schools and hospitals in the UK.

National Book Tokens have been providing two £5 Book Tokens to Readathon schools since 2012, enabling schools to reward star pupils. So much more than a free book, pupils receiving a Token can experience the wonder of browsing the book shelves to choose which book is just right for them.

Since 2010, in partnership with Scholastic Book Clubs we have jointly given over £1 million worth of free book vouchers to reward Readathon schools, helping boost the nation’s school libraries. Scholastic also supports our hospital and Brilliant Box of Books programmes, helping us find the best books that kids love to read.

We are grateful to the many publishers who support our work with funding, book donations and access to authors and illustrators, helping us reach tens of thousands of children with the best in children’s books. Read for Good

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Financial overview Our small team of eleven delivers effectively and efficiently, wellgoverned by a board of trustees, and supported by freelance professional storytellers and a team of regular volunteers. We pride ourselves on ‘punching above our weight’ and ensuring exceptional value for money. Covid-19 has had a significant effect on our fundraising. Whilst the need is greater than ever, it is also harder than ever to raise money. We rely entirely on donations. In addition to the amazing schools, children, teachers and librarians who raise funds through Readathon, we would like to thank all the trusts, foundations, companies and donors who support us.

Income by category 2020/21

School sponsored reads


School reading initiatives


Trust fundraising


Hospital programme


Corporate fundraising


Charity costs


Individual fundraising


Costs of raising funds


Other donations


Total expenditure

Total income

Transforming lives Books and stories help children and young people to make sense of our increasingly complex world Whilst there are ever-more distractions from reading, Read for Good will work ever-harder to develop accessible, creative tools and resources to motivate young people to read, and to ensure that children can access the very best books and stories, in turn fostering a life-long love of reading. Taking positive learnings from the pandemic, we strive to provide schools, hospitals and communities with targeted, effective programmes to encourage children to read for pleasure. We want children to be able to access the very best in books and stories, and will provide first-class resources, combined with the essential motivation, to help children become life-long readers.

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Expenditure by category 2020/21



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“We have quickly adapted our programmes to meet the immediate need, but perhaps more importantly, we are looking forward to the next decade, to ensure Read for Good’s work continues to meet the changing long-term needs of schools, hospitals and communities across the UK.” Justine Daniels CEO, Read for Good

26 Nailsworth Mills, Avening Road, Nailsworth, Gloucestershire GL6 0BS tel: 01453 839005 email: Readathon® and Track My Read® are part of Read for Good®, registered charity no.1130309 (England and Wales) no.SC041036 (Scotland). Read for Good is registered with the Fundraising Regulator.