Rakuten Kobo announces corporate social responsibility program initiatives

kobosrprogram-inRakuten Kobo, one of the world’s fastest-growing eReading services, has announced its new corporate social responsibility program “designed to promote the importance of reading for all stages of life through partnerships, while providing thousands of books and eReaders to encourage and enable people of all ages to read more.” For early and middle school readers, Kobo and First Book Canada have partnered to bring new books to students at elementary schools and high schools across Canada – the majority of whom don’t have a single book in their own homes! Kobo added that the access to a book of one’s own is key to the advancement of literacy among children, especially those from low-income families. Studies show that high interest in reading triples among children who received new books from First Book, with reports of a 70% increase of reading in the home.

Another program – Stop Summer Slide – is an initiative that took place in May and June, with the goal of preventing the loss of academic skills over the summer break. Three elementary schools took part in reading celebrations led by prominent children’s authors, talking about the importance of reading and its effect on learning. Each school also received 1,500 new books for students to own and keep at home.

Tom Best.
Tom Best.

This fall, Kobo and First Book Canada will work with high schools across the country on a program created to inspire young adults to embrace and sustain reading. “Middle school and high school offers us a last best chance to inspire a lifelong love of reading, to ensure literacy and overall academic success,” said Tom Best, Executive Director of First Book Canada. “Research shows there is a risk of an ‘achievement dip’ in adolescence, and this is something we strive to address through our programs. We’re grateful for Kobo’s support.”

Frontier College

Kobo is also working with Frontier College’s Homework Clubs. The Clubs are designed to improve educational outcomes for children in high-needs communities – gaining the skills and confidence they need to reach their potential as contributors to Canadian society. Over the past year, volunteers have provided 19,336 hours of tutoring to 2,695 learners across Canada. Starting this Fall, Kobo eReaders will be incorporated into select Homework Clubs to encourage students to read more while learning.

Older adult reader programs

Michael Tamblyn.
Michael Tamblyn.

With the goal of supporting families in improving the quality of life in long-term care homes, Kobo and Family Councils Ontario are working together to create a digital reading program for select homes in the Greater Toronto Area. ETAG, a leader in adult education that helps people understand technology, will offer training on the use of eReaders as well as eReaders themselves – which will be used by residents in long-term care facilities, or family members and friends who choose to read to a loved one. Thin, lightweight eReaders are often easier to hold compared to traditional books, and the ability to set font sizes makes reading easier for people with deteriorating eyesight. Reading is also associated with an increase in quality of life, as well as a decrease in dementia-related behaviours, said Kobo.

“We’re pleased to be able to offer support at a number of critical points in the life of a reader, and to help create and support generations of book lovers,” said Michael Tamblyn, CEO of Rakuten Kobo. “If simply allowing a child to choose his or her own book can spark a love of reading at an early age, let’s give children books. Let’s support struggling older readers before they give up entirely. And let’s ensure reading doesn’t disappear at a time when it may be difficult to see, to get out to buy or borrow a book, or when being read to creates connection and a better quality of life. It’s our mission to support reading from a person’s first words to their last chapters,” Tamblyn added.

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Tony Curcio is the editor of Graphic Arts Magazine.