WHSmith, National Literacy Trust and Macmillan Children’s Books, launch Gift a Gruffalo campaign

WHSmith has announced it has launched a new campaign with the National Literacy Trust and Macmillan Children’s Books, a division of Pan Macmillan, to improve children’s early years literacy.

WHSmith has announced it has launched a new campaign with the National Literacy Trust and Macmillan Children’s Books, a division of Pan Macmillan, to improve children’s early years literacy.

Gift a Gruffalo’ will see copies of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s beloved story, The Gruffalo, gifted to children from communities where the link between low literacy levels and poverty is the most evident.

The gifted copies will be distributed through the National Literacy Trust’s literacy hubs - where they work with and in some of the most deprived communities in the UK to tackle low levels of literacy.

The Gruffalo, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, is an award-winning modern classic with a cast of immediately recognisable characters. It has captured the hearts of countless children, and reached millions of readers globally, and promises to delight future generations for years to come.

Customers will also be able to donate money to registered charity, the National Literacy Trust, at any WHSmith High Street store across the UK at the till point or online at the National Literacy Trust. All funds raised will support the charity’s ongoing work with communities, schools and local partners in socioeconomically deprived areas of the UK.

This latest campaign in partnership with WHSmith, National Literacy Trust and Macmillan Children’s Books follows on from previous fundraising and awareness raising campaigns in recent years, which delivered the equivalent of almost 130,000 books to children, through book donations and financial contributions to provide the support that is needed.

WHSmith has a long legacy of championing children’s literacy, having partnered with the National Literacy Trust for over two decades, and over the last nine months they’re proud to have supported the launch of the National’s Literacy Trust’s Early Words Matter campaign, which offers early support to 250,000 children in the most disadvantaged areas of the country, while also raising awareness of the critical role the early years play in school mobility. Families experiencing poverty work hard to get what is best for their children, but are less likely to have the resources, information and confidence to create the stimulating and engaging environment needed to develop crucial early communication, language and literacy skills. For example, lower income parents may be less confident in their own literacy skills, be less able to afford age-appropriate books, and struggle more with competing time pressures, among other factors. National Literacy Trust’s Early Words Matter campaign calls on the Government and the business community to commit to working together to provide better early years support to families from disadvantaged communities. It is endorsed by members of the National Literacy Trusts’ national Business Council, of which WHSmith is a member.

The donations raised for the National Literacy Trust through the ‘Gift a Gruffalo’ campaign launching today are part of our continued efforts to fund resources, including free books for young children who are unlikely to own one, and interventions to help improve their reading skills. 

Lucy Swinburn, Group Trading Director Books at WHSmith commented: “At WHSmith, we are committed to promoting literacy. Together, we've been able to extend the joy of reading to thousands of children across the UK who may not have access to books of their own. Yet with literacy so vital to children’s growth and potential, the gap between the most disadvantaged and their peers continues to widen, and we must address this with urgent action. That's why with the help of the Gruffalo we’ve launched this latest campaign, committing to further book donations and fundraising efforts through our stores and online. Our mission remains steadfast: to ensure that every child has the opportunity to discover the magic of reading.”

Jonathan Douglas, CEO at National Literacy Trust added: “The National Literacy Trust is enormously grateful to WHSmith and Macmillan Children’s Books for their generous support in helping us to provide young children with the literacy skills they need to succeed in life. We believe every child has the right to those literacy skills but sadly so many of them are being held behind simply because they don’t have access to books of their own at home. The Gift a Gruffalo campaign supports the work we do with and in communities to build a child’s early language, literacy and communication skills right from the start.’ 

Joanna Prior, CEO at Pan Macmillan said: “We are so proud to publish The Gruffalo at Pan Macmillan and privileged to work with the brilliantly talented Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, whose books have won the hearts of children and families throughout the UK. I can imagine no better way of celebrating the 25th birthday of this best loved, iconic character, than working in partnership with The National Literacy Trust and WHSmith to help get books into the hands of children who need them the most.” 

Julia Donaldson said: “There's nothing like a book for sparking a child's imagination and helping them to understand themselves and the world. So I'm very happy to be working with WHSmith and the National Literacy Trust on the ‘Gift a Gruffalo’ campaign, getting books to as many families and children as possible. I believe that all children should be able to access books and stories and the joy they can provide, and this partnership will go a long way to help this become a reality.” 

Axel Scheffler said: “Discovering and enjoying picture books is an important moment for a child, and one that should be available to all. ‘Gift a Gruffalo’ is a vital campaign and working in partnership with the National Literacy Trust and WHSmith means we can help to bring change to the lives of those children who need it the most. I am very pleased to be supporting this initiative."