600 children in Swindon to be gifted books as part of national campaign

By Jessica Durston - 29 September 2022


25,000 copies of Sir Lenny Henry's book The Boy With Wings will be given to school children across the UK, including Swindon.

600 copies of Sir Lenny Henry's first novel, The Boy With Wings, will be passed along to Year 5 and 6 pupils at ten schools in Swindon. 

The book delivery will take place on 3 October, as a result of Enterprise Rent-a-Car and the National Literacy Trust joining forces to promote the benefits of reading. This will be the second year the two organisations have worked together. 

A spokesperson describes the plot of The Boy With Wings: "When Tunde Wilkinson sprouts wings, he learns he’s all that stands between Earth and total destruction, and suddenly school is the least of his problems. Luckily, his rag-tag group of pals have got his back, and with his new powers, Tunde is ready to fly in the face of danger."

The National Literacy Trust has produced video resources and lesson plans featuring CBeebies star Joanna Adeyinka-Burton and Matilda The Musical actress Sienna Clarke, to help schools to delve deeper into the themes of diversity and inclusion that feature in the book.

The resources will be available to participating schools for one week, and will be accessible to all schools and parents from 10 October at http://literacytrust.org.uk/boy-with-wings.

The Boy With Wings, illustrated by Keenon Ferrell and published by Macmillan Children’s books, was chosen because it portrays important messages about race, inclusion and diversity wrapped up in an exciting and fun adventure. The book also includes an exclusive comic book created by Marvel artist, Mark Buckingham.

Sir Lenny Henry said he wrote The Boy With Wings because he did not see Black heroes in the books he read growing up, and that he wants all children to see themselves appear centre stage in exciting, inspiring stories where they have great adventures. 

Research by the National Literacy Trust found that 40% of children and young people from ethnic minority backgrounds say that they do not see themselves in what they read.

Lenny Henry explained: "I want to make sure as many kids as possible have access to books and this project brilliantly targets those kids who don’t have books at home. 

"Reading – with lots of trips to my local library in Dudley – was such an important part of my childhood, it took me on so many different adventures and to so many different worlds. Here’s to The Boy With Wings flying into homes across the UK thanks to the National Literacy Trust and Enterprise!"

Simon Caughey-Rogers, Enterprise’s Corporate Social Responsibility and Charity Events Manager said: “Enterprise firmly believes in expanding opportunity for everyone. This partnership provides an excellent way for us to support early childhood development through the power of reading.

"Too many children say that they don’t see themselves in what they read, especially those from Black ethnic backgrounds. It is our hope that this book helps inspire them and spark a lifelong interest in reading for pleasure, with all the fun and benefits that it can bring.”

Darranda Rowswell, Director of Development at the National Literacy Trust said: “Creating a culture of reading for pleasure in schools is crucial to increasing literacy levels, which in turn gives children access to more opportunities throughout their lives.

"The Boy With Wings is an excellent choice of book for this project because Sir Lenny Henry’s story gives children of Black heritage the chance to see themselves and their lives in the books they read, as well as engaging children of all backgrounds in the adventures of Tunde. We’re so excited to see this partnership create a culture of reading and encouraging a love of stories that we hope will stay with children for the rest of their lives.”

Samantha Smith, Publisher, Fiction, Non-Fiction and Picture Books, Macmillan Children's Books, said: "'Macmillan Children's Books is thrilled to be working with partners who are just as passionate as we are about spreading a love of reading and getting books into the hands of children across the UK. Lenny Henry's exciting, adventurous and funny The Boy With Wings is the perfect read to encourage children to spread their wings."

The Enterprise Holdings Foundation was established in 1982 with aims of giving back to the communities where partners and employees live and work.

The other towns and cities receiving books from the partnership are: Liverpool, Manchester (City), Nottingham, Rochdale, Salford, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Bradford, Leeds, Birmingham, Bristol, Newport, London borough of Southwark, London borough of Lambeth, London borough of Hackney, London borough of Enfield, London borough of Islington, Belfast and Lisburn.

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