Children hop on board the Middlesbrough Reads literacy bus and pick up free books in celebration of the campaign’s 5th anniversary

09 Aug 2018
Middlesbrough bus tour

Yesterday our Middlesbrough Reads campaign brought a literacy-themed bus to local community centres to celebrate five years of working to raise literacy levels in the town.

Supported by Arriva North East, the bus visited Easterside, Grove Hill, Thorntree, North Ormesby and Newport on Wednesday 8 August, where children aged 4 to 11 climbed on board. They enjoyed storytelling from award-winning performance poet Dom Berry and were gifted a brand new book, courtesy of Penguin Random House, and Middlesbrough Reads bookmark to take home.

The Middlesbrough Hub was launched by the National Literacy Trust in 2013, in partnership with Middlesbrough Council and Public Health. Over five years, the Hub has brought together Middlesbrough businesses, schools, health professionals, sport and cultural partners to deliver a range of bespoke programmes and initiatives which have significantly improved literacy levels in the town. Highlights include:

  • Working with more than 40,000 children and families, helping them to fall in love with books and share stories together
  • Giving away 59,000 free books worth more than £500,000 and 60,000 flyers with literacy messaging
  • Handing out 3,000 reading packs each containing a copy of Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney at James Cook University Hospital to help parents bond with their premature babies. This project was highly commended by the Third Sector Charity Business Awards, shortlisted in the Charity Times Awards and has since been rolled out in Stoke-on-Trent and Bradford.
  • Contributing to a 31% increase in the percentage of Middlesbrough children achieving the expected level in communication and language at age five (from 55.4% in 2013 to 72.7% in 2017); double the rate of national improvement


The Middlesbrough Reads literacy bus tour follows a 5th anniversary celebration event for partners in June, which was attended by Edward Kunonga, Director of Public Health Middlesbrough and Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust.

Allison Potter, Manager of the National Literacy Trust Hub in Middlesbrough said:

“Over the last five years, we’ve put nearly 60,000 books in the hands of the Middlesbrough children who need them the most and seen a real improvement in the number of pupils who enjoy reading.

“We were delighted to continue the Hub’s 5th anniversary celebrations with this exciting bus tour with local children and families, giving out more brand new books to inspire reading over the school holidays.”

Nick Knox, Managing Director of Arriva North East, said:

“We supported the launch of the National Literacy Trust Hub in Middlesbrough so are thrilled to be involved in this celebration five years later. Arriva North East is committed to working with local communities and helping to tackle important local challenges like improving the literacy skills of our young residents.”

National Literacy Trust Hubs work with local partners at a community level to tackle low literacy levels and create long-lasting change. The National Literacy Trust Hub in Middlesbrough has inspired a further seven National Literacy Trust Hubs across the country in Bradford, Peterborough, Stoke-on-Trent, Swindon, Nottingham, the North Yorkshire Coast and Hastings. Initiatives developed as part of the Middlesbrough Hub have been rolled out in other areas nationally and internationally with great success.

Find out more about Middlesbrough Reads.