New e-book by Katie Piper highlights importance of digital connectivity for kids
Katie Piper OBE is aiming to shine a light on children and families across the UK left behind by digital exclusion – with the world's first “endless” children's e-book.
The TV presenter, activist, and mum of two, gathered real-life experiences from people living in poverty, in order to inspire the digital story, Alfie's Magic Phone.
It tells the tale of a young boy living without data or internet connection at home, and his sadness as his friends are able to use super-fast mobile phone apps to arrange to meet up and play football without him.
But when Alfie discovers a shiny phone in his dad's wardrobe, he is transported to “Dataville”, on the “most magical mission ever”.
The poignant story features sweet illustrations from Tom McLaughlin, with a hidden surprise – zooming in on different parts of the pictures allows the readers to see the next part of the story, in a seemingly “infinite” thread.
And the e-book, inspired by first-hand accounts from anti-poverty charity, the Trussell Trust, is designed to raise awareness of the importance of digital connectivity for kids.
Released by Tesco Mobile, the e-book was designed to engage and educate connected families who may take their own digital connection for granted, encouraging them to help close the digital divide and make e-books like this one accessible to all.
Alfie's experience of being cut off from loved ones, locked out of life-changing services, and held back through a lack of connection, is one shared by 1.7m million households currently, according to a 2023 report by Lords communications and Digital.
To help create the story, Katie collaborated with the Trussell Trust, and consulted people with lived experience of poverty, to anchor her story in the realities of facing financial hardship and digital exclusion.
Katie Piper said: “This illustrated educational tale explores a new interactive format that could one day become the norm in schools. No family should be left behind due to digital exclusion.
“This is more than just a story – it’s a tool for change, helping those of us who can take being connected for granted to understand the importance of connectivity for every family across the UK.”
Beyond the fictional world of Alfie and his Magic Phone, Tesco Mobile has also pledged to connect 50,000 people facing financial hardship by 2025, through its Little Helps Databank.
CEO Jonathan Taylor said: “We are immensely proud to join forces with the Trussell Trust and Katie Piper, to address the issue of digital exclusion among families around the UK in such a poignant way.
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“Our Little Helps Databank is helping to create a brighter future, where every child has equal access to the digital world and the endless possibilities for storytelling that it holds.
“Through this one-of-a-kind book, we are harnessing the power of digital storytelling to speak to people who have the power to join our fight and ensure no family is left behind.”
In addition, the mobile network has donated devices and data to support the Trussell Trust’s foodbank network, to help the charity provide services as effectively as possible in the face of unprecedented need.
Emma Revie, CEO of the charity, added: “We should all have enough money for the essentials like food, household bills, and internet connection.
“But right now, in the UK, more and more people don’t have enough to live on, and have no option but to use a food bank. This simply isn’t right.
“This book, and Alfie’s story, sheds a light on connection as one of life’s essentials, and on our fantastic partnership with Tesco Mobile, which is helping to keep people facing hardship in our communities connected.”
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