Tony Gallagher, editor of The Sun, said: “Evidence shows how important instilling a love of reading is from the earliest possible age. Reading has been proven to increase empathy in children, help relationships and mental wellbeing, and increase cognitive development.
“Children with poor literacy skills, on the other hand, are more likely to experience unemployment, poverty and poor health.
“With two million books to give away, alongside our hard-working primary school teachers, we can help to drive engagement in reading and increase literacy skills around the country.
“Primary schools need books – we hope that every single one will sign up and benefit.”
According to News UK, the campaign follows a successful Books for Schools campaign in Scotland by The Scottish Sun, which saw 700 primary schools sign up, and gave away over 42,000 books.
Partnering with HarperCollins, primary schools will be able to claim a free pack of 106 books. Selected from the whole-school reading programme Collins Big Cat, there are books in the pack for every reading level, from reception to year six, with a mix of fiction and non-fiction.
The pack is worth over £600, and includes books from authors including Julia Donaldson, Michael Morpurgo and Benjamin Zephaniah, plus downloadable teacher resources. Every pack will also contain David Walliams picture book, There’s a Snake in My School.
Primary schools can register to start collecting tokens from November 2nd, until November 22nd. To do so, primary schools should visit: thesun.co.uk/booksforschools.
Over 20,000 primary schools will be eligible to take part. In return for 3,500 tokens, which can be collected in the paper between November 23rd and January 18th, primary schools will be rewarded with their free pack of 106 books. The tokens need to be posted no later than February 8th.
The campaign has been backed by Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, the Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell and the CEO of the National Literacy Trust, Jonathan Douglas.
Gavin Williamson MP, the Secretary of State for Education, said: “It’s fantastic to see The Sun’s Free Books for Schools programme being launched. These book boxes – worth hundreds of pounds – contain a treasure trove for primary school children, from stories by household favourites like David Walliams and Julia Donaldson to books about making pizza and autobiographies. We need all our children reading books for pleasure and this is a great way for them to start.”
Cressida Cowell, author and Children’s Laureate, said: "I'm delighted to support The Sun's Books for Schools campaign, and make the magic of books accessible to as many school children as possible. With public and primary school libraries closing around the country, not every child has access to the new books they need to become a reader. I applaud The Sun for highlighting this problem, and for helping schools around the country give children the magic of reading."
Chief Executive of the National Literacy Trust, Jonathan Douglas, said: “Campaigns such as Books for Schools can make a massive difference to children’s lives and are to be applauded. For a child to succeed, they need support and help from school, but also the support and help of their parents. The Sun is reminding families that reading well is a vital life skill.”
Charlie Redmayne, HarperCollins CEO, said: “HarperCollins is pleased to support The Sun’s brilliant and important Books for Schools campaign. Children need books, and reading can change lives, so we are delighted that by working with The Sun and families and primary school schools across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, hundreds of thousands of books will reach the hands, hearts and minds of young readers.”
Colin Hughes, MD Collins Learning, said: “We are delighted to be working with The Sun to bring our world-leading Big Cat reading series to primary schools throughout the land. What better way to seed a love of reading, and at the same time give your child the best start on their learning journey? Our high hope is that every UK school will take this incredible opportunity to top up their book boxes for free.”