Idris Elba is helping to tackle adult illiteracy.

Idris Elba

Idris Elba

The 45-year-old actor has partnered with a formerly illiterate mother and Project Literacy, a global campaign founded by learning company Pearson and made up of over 100 organisations dedicated to ending illiteracy by 2030, to address the issue.

They have launched a children's story 'The Little Chicken Named Pong-Pong', which is a re-telling of the classic story 'Chicken Little' and the new version has been written by Wanda Steward, who has spent the last year learning to read and write.

When she was illiterate, Wanda made up her own stories to match the pictures in her children's books and after learning to read and write, she has now created her own book.

Idris has contributed a foreword to the book and has filmed a bedtime story reading that parents and children can enjoy.

Project Literacy Ambassador Idris said: "Story time has always been one of the most magical and treasured parts of the day for me to connect with my children, but it's something that millions of parents across the UK who struggle with their reading are missing out on. However, more alarmingly, it means tasks most people take for granted become impossible, from not being able to read the label on a medicine bottle to not being able to vote.

"Sadly, this is an issue that is passed on from generation to generation, a cycle that we want to break. Through sharing Wanda's inspiring journey, we want to help others understand the importance of investing in adult literacy, which is why we're encouraging as many people as possible to support us by reading Wanda's story."

Kate James, Project Literacy spokesperson and Chief Corporate Affairs and Global Marketing officer at Pearson, said: "By re-writing this story, we want to help rewrite the lives of so many adults who struggle with reading and writing and de-stigmatise the issue of illiteracy through increased awareness.

"Globally, funding for literacy programmes is skewed more heavily towards children in primary and secondary school, rather than youth or adult literacy8, yet we know that there's no way for us to break the cycle of intergenerational illiteracy if we don't focus on parents. We need to tackle all levels if we're to close the global literacy gap in the next decade."

'The Little Chicken named Pong-Pong' will be available for free download from For every book downloaded, Pearson will donate £1 to Project Literacy partners who are helping adults learn to read and write.

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