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Hachette UK’s Changing the Story reading programme boosts average reading age by 11 months over a nine-month period

Hachette UK has revealed the results from the first year of its Changing the Story reading programme with the National Literacy Trust. The data collected from both pupils and teachers indicates significant improvements in pupils’ reading ability and attitude to reading, with the average reading age of the children taking part improving by 11 months over the course of the nine-month initiative. The percentage of children whose reading skills were below the national average decreased from 43.8% at the start of the programme to 16.3% at the end. The attitudinal data from the pupils showed that upon completion of the programme, not one child referred to themselves as a ‘not very good reader’.

In 2021, as part of its three-year partnership with the National Literacy Trust, Hachette UK launched the Changing the Story reading programme. The initiative supports over 500 children in 25 primary schools where high numbers of children experience socioeconomic disadvantage through improving their reading skills and helping them to develop a love of reading. The programme was designed around reading sessions using Hodder Education Group’s Rising Stars Reading Planet scheme, which celebrates diversity and champions individuality through stories, characters and themes that reflect the world we live in today.

Over 22,000 Reading Planet and Hachette Children’s Group books were donated to the participating schools along with free access to Reading Planet Online eBooks and to the National Literacy Trust’s resources and teacher training. 

The teachers who took part in the programme overwhelmingly felt that the programme had had a positive effect on the participating children. All teachers agreed that children’s engagement with reading improved and that they became more interested in reading and books, with 4 in 5 (78.3%) teachers agreeing that their school has put more emphasis on developing higher-order reading skills since taking part in Changing the Story.

Fiona Evans, Director of School Programmes at the National Literacy Trust, said: “We are delighted with the progress made by the children who took part in the Changing the Story programme. To see the percentage of children reading above the national average increase almost tenfold as a result of taking part in the programme is a remarkable success. We are hugely grateful to Hachette UK and Hodder Education for their very generous support, both in terms of funding and the 22,000 books that they donated. We look forward to building on the highly positive outcomes of this programme in future years, in order to help even more children to develop their reading skills and a love of reading.”

Jane Tyler, Publishing Director at Rising Stars, and Victoria Goodall Group Marketing and UK Trade Sales Director at Hodder Education, said:It has been a privilege to work with the National Literacy Trust on the Changing the Story programme. We are delighted that the children taking part increased their reading enjoyment and confidence, and we are thrilled how our Reading Planet scheme contributed to that. We are very pleased to be continuing to work with the National Literacy Trust this year on the programme, including introducing some Year 3 struggling readers to the programme, making use of our new Astro high interest/low reading level series in their sessions.”

The report analyses the data collected from the New Progress in Reading Assessment (New PiRA) tests which reliably benchmark performance and track progress against national averages in reading. It also uses data from pre- and post-attitudinal surveys of pupils, in-depth interviews with some of the pupils, and a post-programme survey of teachers.

The full evaluation report from the first year of the programme can be found here.