World Book Day: Why we give books to schools


In the past, people have questioned the reasons for our giving programme (we give a book to a UK primary school for every order we receive). It’s not quite as clear-cut as say a Toms or Warby Parker, and so some query the relationship between selling clothes and giving books. But for us it’s as clear as day.

We are dreamers. Helen & I have been bookworms for as long as we can remember. Our childhoods would have been unthinkable without books, and the creative spark behind Madderson London was undoubtedly lit thanks to those decades of reading.


We are mothers. Today our kids run excitedly into their beautiful schools, in costume as their favourite literary character to celebrate World Book Day. It’s a wonderful occasion that brings the power of reading to life for children. A love of reading is the most important life-skill we can give them.

Literacy is known to be one of the most powerful drivers of social mobility that there is. Across the UK, ¼ of children live in poverty. One third of children living in poverty will leave primary school unable to read well. That’s 1.5 million children over the next decade if we don’t make big changes, and soon. England has the 2nd highest level of inequality in reading levels between better-off and less affluent children 
in Europe.


Reading for pleasure helps children with literacy and maths.

Children who live in homes with few or no books or reading materials, who attend schools with little to no funding for books (primary school libraries are not mandatory in the UK), and for whom English may be a 2nd language, are at a disadvantage. “Children from disadvantaged backgrounds are likely to be further behind in their reading than children who struggle with reading but are from wealthier families” ('The Power of Reading' report by Save the Children UK). This is not acceptable.


Every child deserves to discover the joy and power of reading.

Reading can change lives in so many ways. Children living in a grim reality can find strength, comfort, escape, coping mechanisms, inspiration and understanding from literary role-models, where those role-models may be lacking in real life. To quote uber-successful Silicon Valley investor and AngelList founder Naval Ravikant, ‘Reading is the ultimate meta skill and can be traded for anything else’.

Reading allows children to DREAM BIG. How can they know how high they dare aim, if they are not familiar with a world without limits, shown so often in novels? Children need to know that they have permission to believe in the magic.


Our approach is to:
> continue donating at current levels. To date we have given >2% of our revenues to this cause. We give back first and then run the business.
> work with our amazing charitable partner Give a Book to find schools that need help to build up a good reading library
> focus on books that will entertain and inspire, to encourage reading for pleasure. Lots of David Walliams and Michael Morpugo!

> donate the books through the schools’ breakfast clubs. This engages children in an informal setting and is less intimidating than a school library. The children grow used to seeing, handling and enjoying the books while they are ‘killing time’ before school.

> donate pencils and notebooks alongside the books. These are readily available for the children to use for sketches and notes if inspiration strikes while they are reading. This reinforces their engagement with, comprehension of and memory of the books.

> revisit our key school partners at regular intervals to stock up with further donation packs.

> steadily increase the amount of non-fiction books featuring inspiring real-life characters like the ‘Little People, Big Dreams’ series. Nothing tells a child they can like a real-life super-hero(ine)!


    Like all the best dreamers, we have BIG PLANS to challenge the postcode lottery through improving children’s literacy. Our aim is to expand the breadth of our offering across the UK and to help even younger children, as the literacy gap opens in pre-school. THANK YOU for supporting us in this amazing cause.

    Sara & Helen

    World Book Day Fancy Dress

    Helen's kids on World Book Day: Cruella di Vil, Where's Wally and Josie the Jump Jockey 

    Sara Madderson is founder and creative director of Madderson London. She loves history, literature, art and a good bottle of claret.
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