About the Letterbox Club
The Letterbox Club is an award-winning programme managed by BookTrust, in partnership with the University of Leicester, which aims to provide enjoyable educational support for looked-after children aged 5-13.
Letterbox Club is run across the UK and is available on a subscription basis. Children are enrolled for the programme by participating local authorities or schools. Each child is sent a colourful parcel of books, maths activities, stationery and other complementary materials once every month for six months, from May to October.
The parcels are delivered to local authorities and schools, who then distribute them by post to the child's home address or by giving them to the children they have enrolled in school.
For many children it's the first time they have had a letter or a parcel through the post and for some it's the first time they have had books of their own.
The programme is also suitable for other children who would benefit, such as those placed for adoption or for post-adoption support.
Award-winning children’s author, Katherine Rundell, talks about the postal element of Letterbox Club and how important it was for her foster sister, Annie, to receive post.
Letterbox Club parcels
Each Letterbox Club parcel arrives in a brightly coloured package so it’s exciting to open and use.
As well as the books, maths activities and stationery, each child receives a letter explaining what’s in their parcel that month. All of the books in the parcels have been carefully selected by the panel at BookTrust for the children in the programme. Find out more about book selection
Over the six-month period the parcels will also include other items such as a library joining card or information about how to join a library, name plates, bookmarks and letters from a selection of children’s authors. We’re also constantly looking to develop new materials to be added to the parcels.
After being a member of the Letterbox Club for six months the child will have built up their own small library of books, a collection of number games and a variety of stationery items.
'One young boy in particular told me he uses everything for school from the pens to the plastic wallet and enjoys playing the money games at home!' Fostering team
Letterbox Club research
Research shows that children in care underachieve in education but evaluation from pilots of the Letterbox Club has shown that providing parcels designed to encourage fun learning has had a demonstrable impact. Many children have made significant gains in their standardised reading scores.
Letterbox Club reach
- In 2007-8 BookTrust received support from the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) to extend the programme to 1,600 children
- By 2009, the Letterbox Club opened to every local authority in the United Kingdom, with over 4,500 children enrolled across the 129 authorities
- 2012 saw a record level of sign up, with 120 local authorities and over 5,000 children enrolled
- 2013 marked the 10th anniversary of Letterbox Club (the original developmental pilot was in 2003)
- In 2015 a record-breaking 10,597 children received Letterbox Club parcels, via local authorities, schools and other organisations.
Letterbox Club across the UK
Funders and Supporters
The Siobhan Dowd Trust is the legacy of one of the UK's most talented children's writers, Siobhan Dowd, who died in 2007.
Siobhan founded the Trust shortly before her death, bequeathing the royalties from her books to bring the joy and delight of reading to disadvantaged children who have little or no access to books.
Supporting the pilot of Letterbox Green, for looked-after children aged 11-13, was one of the very first grants awarded by the Trust.
Chair of Trustees, Tony Bradman said: 'Letterbox actually ticked all our boxes. It’s about literacy and it’s specific, and it’s targeted, and it goes to kids who really, really need it. And it’s bringing the joy of reading to them.'
We work in partnership with Fostering Network Northern Ireland to deliver Letterbox Club via its Fostering Achievement programme. This successful partnership was recognised in 2011 with a Third Sector Excellence Award in the Charity Partnership category.
Fostering Network CEO, Robert Tapsfield said: 'We know that all too often children in care struggle in school and fall behind their peers in terms of academic achievement. Access to the fun and inspiring materials that the Letterbox Club sends out is helping young fostered children to meet their potential at a key stage in their development.'