Young Readers Programme

Children enjoying the Young Readers Programme

Many children in disadvantaged areas leave primary school unable to read at the expected level. Through the Young Readers Programme, we support these children to develop their love of books and reading identity through a series of fun events focused on book choice and reading for enjoyment.

About the programme

The Young Readers Programme is:

  • Changing the lives of disadvantaged children

    25% of children left primary school last year unable to read properly. This increases to 40% for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. A love of reading can change their lives.

  • Giving children brand-new books

    Through a series of fun events, we give disadvantaged children the opportunity to choose books that they can take home and keep. These are often the first books they have ever owned.

  • Award-winning

    The programme has been running for over 20 years. In recent years, we have been awarded the the 2018 Charity Times Award 2018 for Corporate Local Involvement for our partnership with British Land and the Corporate Engagement Bronze Award 2017 for our partnership with WHSmith.

  • Free

    As part of the programme, schools and other partner organisations also receive training, ongoing support and membership of the National Literacy Trust. There is no cost to the schools, teachers or children for taking part and, wherever possible, expenses (including travel) are covered.


We know that reading for enjoyment is vital to a child’s development and future success in life. Children who enjoy reading are three times more likely to read above the level expected for their age than children who don’t enjoy reading. As well as this, children who are good readers are three times more likely to have higher mental wellbeing than their peers with below expected reading skills.

The Young Readers Programme has given over 1.2 million books to over 411,000 children. Our most recent evaluation of the Young Readers Programme showed that the programme supports young readers’:

  • Confidence

9 in 10 teachers told us that pupils were proud of having books of their own.

More than twice as many children would now describe themselves as good readers in comparison to before the programme.

  • Engagement

9 in 10 teachers told us that the programme had a positive impact on reading for their most reluctant readers.

92% of teachers felt confident in supporting their reluctant readers and 99% felt confident to support readers to choose the right books.

  • Enjoyment

More than twice as many children enjoy reading very much as a result of taking part in the programme.

One participating teacher said: “What an amazing programme provided by the National Literacy Trust. I have seen a great uptake in the joy of reading since we joined the Young Readers Programme.”

Reading and book choice resources

Choice empowers a child, instils ownership in a task and encourages self-determination in literacy learning.” – (Annual Literacy Survey, 2008)

Supporting children to choose books for themselves helps them to develop confident reading identities and find real enjoyment from reading. Below, we’ve collected some of our core book choice resources that can help you inspire a love of stories and reading in your children.

These include our booklists, which have been created to suit a wide range of tastes and ages. The lists are continuously updated and expanded, and include topics such as:

  • What should I read next? Recommendations based on the titles and authors children have already enjoyed.
  • Award winners: stand-out titles that have won recent children's publishing awards.
  • Magazines and comics: engaging and fun options allowing children to explore their interests.

If you enjoy the fun and thoughtful episodes of our Young Readers Story Club you might like to take a look this list of some of our favourite storytellers from all over the country.

To find more resources to support your pupils’ literacy, please take a look at the interventions and programmes we’re offering in our Education Recovery area.

Young Readers Resources
  • boy and girl.jpg

    Young Readers Programme coordinator zone

    Supporting resources, activities and book lists for schools taking part in the Young Readers Programme.
    Learn more
  • Outdoor book chat.jpg

    Young Readers Programme: booklists

    Celebrate reading and inspire children with our themed book lists.
    Learn more
  • Young Readers Story Club - Togetherness

    Young Readers Story Club

    This collection of short films feature some of our favourite storytellers, poets, writers and illustrators telling exciting stories.
    Watch now

Current opportunities

The Young Readers Programme works with state schools across the UK throughout the academic year. It is a funded programme which works largely by recruiting schools in target areas, however, we welcome expressions of interest from schools at any point during the year. If you would like to let us know you’re interested, or you have any questions you’d like to ask us, we’d love to hear from you!

If you are interested in funding the Young Readers Programme or collaborating with us we would also love to hear from you.

Please send all enquiries to:

Success stories

Thank you to those who fund and support the Young Readers Programme