Penguin Random House Partners with Save the Children for Multi-Year Global Book Donation Effort


In the face of educational disruptions following the pandemic and the mounting book banning crisis, Penguin Random House has announced an unprecedented book donation to long-standing partner Save the Children to help spread the joy of reading to kids everywhere. The historic donation is the largest global book donation in Save the Children’s history and will provide more than one million books to children across the globe over three years.

Children in South Africa with their new books.

“Even before the pandemic, nearly 400 million children worldwide could not read or write,” said Luciana Bonifacio, Chief Development Officer of Save the Children US. “It is even more urgent now amid compounding global crises that children all over the world return to learning and are able to read to help them reach their full potential.”

According to UNESCO, 244 million children did not attend school in 2022—and by 2030, the organization predicts that 20% of young people and 30% of adults will be unable to read. Penguin Random House’s partnership with Save the Children helps combat this global education crisis by providing age-appropriate books that support kids’ literacy skill development and ensure they have opportunities to learn both inside their schools and within their communities.

From accelerated learning for out-of-school children to school-based reading clubs run by trained volunteers, Save the Children programs that have been or will be supported by Penguin Random House’s book donation so far include:

  • ‘Early Steps to School Success’, which provides early childhood development services to children ages 0-5 and their families in under-resourced communities, and Head Start programs across rural America
  • Indigenous-led literacy initiatives in communities across Canada
  • Safe spaces where children and families participate in educational activities, play games and receive support for physical or mental health concerns in Jiangna Township, China
  • Elementary schools in four regions of Germany, including Berlin and Brandenburg
  • Inclusive learning environments in India, including, but not limited to, school libraries, district education and training facilities, mobile learning centers and evening education support centers for young adults
  • Early childhood centers in Mexico City
  • Early childhood development centers in a South African province damaged by severe flooding in 2022
  • Primary schools within low income-communities across the U.K., including England and Wales, as well as in partnership with a local book project in rural Scotland

Children, program staff and school leadership who received books as part of the global donation spoke of the enormous impact. “We are mobilizing resources to construct a community library at the village and these books will add value,” said one teacher in India. In North Carolina, a Head Start center director said “The books were the absolute best gift for the children in our program. This donation will build their reading and developmental skills.”

Teachers in India unpacking new books.

“Save the Children is one of our most beloved partnerships. As an organization, their unparalleled access to and nuanced understanding of communities around the world have helped us reach more children with our books than ever before,” said Claire von Schilling, EVP and Director of Corporate Communications and Social Responsibility, Penguin Random House.

“A global donation of this scale requires masterful on-the-ground coordination across both organizations’ territories and local offices, and I am so thankful to our Save the Children partners and Penguin Random House publishers around the world who have worked tirelessly to make this happen. Together, we can—and will—continue to change children’s lives through the magic of reading.”

Blooming Bull Pups Learning Center, Louisiana.

“The work we do at Save the Children would be impossible without our partners, from local school districts to organizations like Penguin Random House,” said Bonifacio. “That’s why we’re so grateful to Penguin Random House for taking direct action to help solve the global literacy crisis. Books open up limitless potential, helping children learn, imagine and grow.”

Since its founding more than 100 years ago, Save the Children has sought to increase children’s access to high-quality early education. The organization’s Safe Back to School & Learning Initiative, which launched in 2020 in response to COVID-19 and school closures worldwide, aims to ensure children resume learning after interruptions, can return to school safely and make education systems more resilient through holistic programming, advocacy and inter-agency coordination. Save the Children’s global Literacy Boost program also improves children’s reading skills through teacher training, reading assessments and community-based support.

Posted: May 10, 2023