Since the middle of 2011, the London Evening Standard has been focused on increasing literacy in the UK with their “Get London Reading” initiative. To date, they’ve raised £1 million (about $1.5 million) and helped more than 2,000 children.
Now Barnes & Noble and Nook Media have joined the campaign, along with several large UK publishers (Hachette UK, HarperCollins, Penguin and Random House). Last month, Barnes & Noble donated 100 Nook Simple Touch readers to the program, which has allowed volunteer reading helpers to use the e-readers during their work.
I just checked out the program, run by an organization called Beanstalk, and it looks good. Each reading helper works with three children, visiting them at least twice a week for 90 minutes per session. The volunteers have said that the children like interacting with the Nook readers and being able to adjust font size and look up words directly.
Recently, the publishers mentioned above have gotten into the spirit of the program, and have donated a number of titles to be loaded onto the donated Nooks. You can check out the press release for the list of titles. As a big fan of the show, I was glad to see a Doctor Who book on the list. And since it’s one I haven’t read yet, I guess I’d better get on it.
But that’s not all. On Saturday, July 13, the Get Reading program and Nook are sponsoring a read-a-thon in Trafalger Square. The read-a-thon will be led by Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, and he’ll be joined by other celebrity authors. Unfortunately, none of them have been announced yet, at least not that I could find. Hopefully some of them will be authors of the donated books.
I also noticed that Barnes & Noble has been selling the Nook Simple Touch in the UK for only £29–such a good deal that they’re now sold out–and they’ve put the Nook Simple Touch Glowlight on sale for £69. Looks like Nooks are selling well in the UK.
All in all, a pretty cool celebration of reading. Suppose Vincent Gray (current Mayor of the District of Columbia) will follow on and organize something here? The reading situation in our country could use a boost, too.