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Sir Lenny Henry’s first novel, The Boy With Wings, will be flying home with 600 Year 5 and 6 pupils at ten schools in Liverpool on 3 October, thanks to Enterprise and the National Literacy Trust who have joined forces for a second consecutive year to promote the benefits of reading.
The partnership aims to boost rates of reading for pleasure, which is linked to better attainment at school, higher lifetime earning potential and better mental health. Despite the clear benefits of reading, almost one in five (18.6%) children in England between the ages of five and eight do not have access to books at home, according to recent research by the National Literacy Trust.
This gift is part of Enterprise’s ROAD Forward , a $55 million fund from the philanthropic Enterprise Holdings Foundation to support social and racial equity projects across the world.
The books will arrive in schools at the start of UK Black History Month (1-31 October) which celebrates the accomplishments of Black Britons.
The National Literacy Trust has produced video resources and lesson plans featuring CBeebies star Joanna Adeyinka-Burton and Matilda The Musical actress Sienna Clarke to enable schools to delve deeper into the themes of diversity and inclusion that feature in the book.
The resources will be available to participating schools for one week and will be accessible to all schools and parents from 10 October at http://literacytrust.org.uk/boy-with-wings
The Boy With Wings, illustrated by Keenon Ferrell and published by Macmillan Children’s books, was chosen because it portrays important messages about race, inclusion and diversity wrapped up in an exciting and fun adventure. The book also includes an exclusive comic book created by Marvel artist, Mark Buckingham.
Sir Lenny Henry said he wrote The Boy With Wings because he didn’t see Black heroes in the books he read growing up, and wants all children to see themselves appear centre stage in exciting, inspiring stories where they have great adventures. Research by the National Literacy Trust found that 40% of children and young people from ethnic minority backgrounds say that they don’t see themselves in what they read.
“I want to make sure as many kids as possible have access to books and this project brilliantly targets those kids who don’t have books at home,” said Sir Lenny. “Reading – with lots of trips to my local library in Dudley – was such an important part of my childhood, it took me on so many different adventures and to so many different worlds. Here’s to The Boy With Wings flying into homes across the UK thanks to the National Literacy Trust and Enterprise!”
Simon Caughey-Rogers, Enterprise’s Corporate Social Responsibility and Charity Events Manager said, “Enterprise firmly believes in expanding opportunity for everyone. This partnership provides an excellent way for us to support early childhood development through the power of reading. Too many children say that they don’t see themselves in what they read, especially those from Black ethnic backgrounds. It is our hope that this book helps inspire them and spark a lifelong interest in reading for pleasure, with all the fun and benefits that it can bring.”
Darranda Rowswell, Director of Development at the National Literacy Trust commented, “Creating a culture of reading for pleasure in schools is crucial to increasing literacy levels, which in turn gives children access to more opportunities throughout their lives. The Boy With Wings is an excellent choice of book for this project because Sir Lenny Henry’s story gives children of Black heritage the chance to see themselves and their lives in the books they read, as well as engaging children of all backgrounds in the adventures of Tunde. We’re so excited to see this partnership create a culture of reading and encouraging a love of stories that we hope will stay with children for the rest of their lives.”
Samantha Smith, Publisher, Fiction, Non-Fiction and Picture Books, Macmillan Children’s Books, said, “‘Macmillan Children’s Books is thrilled to be working with partners who are just as passionate as we are about spreading a love of reading and getting books into the hands of children across the UK. Lenny Henry’s exciting, adventurous and funny The Boy With Wings is the perfect read to encourage children to spread their wings.”
The Enterprise Holdings Foundation was established in 1982 to give back to the communities where partners and employees live and work.
The towns and cities receiving books from the partnership are: Liverpool, Manchester (City), Nottingham, Rochdale, Salford, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Bradford, Leeds, Birmingham, Bristol, Newport, Swindon, London borough of Southwark, London borough of Lambeth, London borough of Hackney, London borough of Enfield, London borough of Islington, Belfast and Lisburn.
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