World’s largest literacy campaign launches new initiative with the help of Jack Black

World’s largest literacy campaign launches new initiative with the help of Jack Black

TOTS (Turn On The Subtitles),  the world’s largest literacy campaign, has announced the launch of its latest initiative, asking 40 million households in the UK and the US to turn on the subtitles to improve children’s literacy.

The new campaign stars Hollywood legend Jack Black, who joins Stephen Fry, Sandi Toksvig, and Lenny Henry, as well as other leading academics and influencers.

TOTS was founded by a small group of like-minded parents, Nina Hale, Henry Warren and Oli Barrett back in 2021.

Having stumbled across research into the impact of simply turning on the subtitles, the parents tried it in their own homes and within a few months could see a difference in their children’s literacy. They decided to share this insight with other parents, expecting only to reach a few thousand parents. However, with the support of a raft of A-list celebrities from Stephen Fry and Sandi Toksvig, to Sir Lenny Henry and Rachel Riley, it has quickly become the world’s largest literacy campaign, helping over 400 million children around the world.

TOTS has recently secured support from leading education software provider, Access Education.

Jemma Price, Marketing Director at Access Education, said:

“Seeking to revolutionise the way children engage with television, TOTS is a groundbreaking initiative that has rapidly become the world’s largest literacy campaign. The idea is as simple as it is brilliant – all you have to do is turn on the subtitles.”

Henry Warren, Co-founder of TOTS, said:

“It’s amazing to see the impact TOTS has had in such a small space of time, going from a kitchen table in Essex to the world’s largest literacy programme. It went nuts almost immediately. It was rather surprising when it passed 37 million impressions on Twitter. We were fielding calls from journalists, educators and TV stations all over the world.”

With the average child watching just over 3 hours and 15 minutes of TV a day, turning on the subtitles for the full year would amount to the same number of words being read that are in all of the Harry Potter series, the Narnia saga, the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Roald Dahl’s entire collection, combined. It’s that simple.

The TOTS initiative led to the launch of Sky Q’s Literacy Zone, which plays children’s favourite cartoons with subtitles. Moonbug has also launched a channel on YouTube called Moonbug Kids Literacy. To date, these platforms now have over 5 billion views.

Everyone working across the education sector needs to understand the fundamental importance of turning on the subtitles and the impact it can – and is proven, to have. Politicians have also started to take note of the huge societal benefits. The TOTS partnership with Indian NGO, Planet Read, even led to changes in the law whereby 50% of linear TV content has to include a subtitles function by 2025.

TOTS was initially aiming to help a few thousand children in the UK, but with this number only increasing (currently at 400 million), the target is now to help a billion children by 2027. All they ask is that schools, parents and the media share this incredibly simple but powerful message.

Author: Turn On The Subtitles

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