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Rakuten Kobo Corporate Social Responsibility Program Celebrates a Lifetime of Reading

August 15, 2016

Toronto, ONAugust 15th, 2016 – As a company created by and for booklovers, supporting literacy and reading accessibility seems like a natural fit for Rakuten Kobo.

There are several crucial periods where would-be readers can drop off and be denied the joy that reading can bring to life. Early reading skills are extremely important, naturally; but research shows that older children who struggle with reading with middle school and later are at risk of giving up entirely. Further, in old age, reading can go by the wayside as eyesight and hand strength fail or as older adults downsize into smaller housing and leave their books behind – all issues that eReaders can assist.

To address these needs, Rakuten Kobo today announces its multi-faceted corporate social responsibility program—designed to promote the importance of reading for all stages of life—through partnerships providing thousands of books and eReaders to encourage and enable people of all ages to read more.

Early and middle school readers

First Book Canada: Kobo and First Book Canada have partnered to bring new books to students at elementary and high schools across Canada—the majority of whom do not have a single book in their own homes. 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. More on the programs:

  • “Stop Summer Slide”: An initiative that took place in May and June, with the goal of preventing the loss of academic skills over the summer break. Each of 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.
  • 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 are grateful for Kobo’s support.”

Frontier College: Again, to capture attention and support literacy among children who may have missed the important foundation years, Kobo is 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 in 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. Benefits of digital reading for Homework Clubs include:

  • Customizable font styles and sizes—struggling students often find it easier to read and understand books with larger fonts.
  • With eReaders, learners can read any book they choose without anyone knowing what they are reading—which many find more comfortable, especially if they choose to read titles that are considered below their grade level.
  • Readers can learn new words by pressing and holding the word they’d like to look up to retrieve its definition instantly while they’re reading.

Older Adult Readers

Family Councils Ontario: With the goal of supporting families in improving 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 or family members and friends who choose to read to a loved one. Thin, lightweight eReaders are oftentimes easier to hold compared to traditional books, and the ability to set font sizes makes reading easier for people with deteriorating eyesight. Reading is associated with an increase in quality of life as well as a decrease in dementia-related behaviours.

“Reading is incredibly important as a tool in working with dementia. Further, we believe we are among the very first organizations to recognize a need to support reading and literacy among older adults living in Long-Term Care homes,” said Samantha Peck, Director, Communications & Education, Family Councils Ontario. “Even the most avid booklover may lose access to reading in old age. It is a problem that digital is uniquely positioned to solve.”

“We are 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 booklovers,” said Michael Tamblyn, CEO, 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 is our mission to support reading from a person’s first words to their last chapters.”

About Rakuten Kobo Inc.
Rakuten Kobo Inc. is one of the world’s fastest-growing eReading services offering more than 5 million eBooks and magazines to millions of customers in 190 countries. Believing that consumers should have the freedom to read any book on any device, Kobo provides consumers with a choice when reading. Kobo offers an eReader for everyone with a variety of E Ink eReaders including Kobo Aura H2O, Kobo Glo HD, and Kobo Touch 2.0. Along with the company’s free top-ranking eReading apps for Apple®, BlackBerry®, Android®, and Windows®, Kobo ensures the next great read is just a page-turn away. Headquartered in Toronto and owned by Tokyo-based Rakuten, Kobo eReaders can be found in major retail chains around the world. For more information, visit


Media Contact

René d’Entremont

Rakuten Kobo Inc.

Director, Public Relations

416.977.8737 x 3587

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