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Reading for Pleasure Campaign

Last updated: 3 July 2013

Sign this petition to make school libraries statutory

We are campaigning with other organisations to encourage reading for pleasure in schools, and we need your support and feedback. We are particularly interested in contributions which detail the impact of author visits and the value of presentations to teacher training colleges and/or teacher conferences.

Our Chief Executive, Nicola Solomon (pictured), wrote to Nick Gibb making recommendations regarding school libraries, teacher training and author visits, and to request a meeting to discuss practical strategies to further the Government response to the Henley Review and Ofsted’s Moving English Forward.

Nick Gibb has made a number of supportive public statements regarding the value of school libraries, literacy and reading for pleasure. We welcome his press notice of 7 February 2012 which asserts that ‘…all children [should] develop a real love of books and of reading for pleasure’ and outlines research which identifies the link between reading and attainment. We are also much encouraged by a recent statement in which he said: ‘I passionately believe that every school should have a school library’ (ATL Conference, 3 April).

In our letter to Nick Gibb, we make the following three recommendations:

1. Primary and secondary schools should be required by law to have a school library and a trained librarian/teacher. (While we think dedicated librarians should be compulsory in secondary schools and all but the smallest primary schools, we recognise that librarians are an expensive resource and at the very least a designated teacher should be given specialist training in such schools.)

2. Teachers, in all stages of their careers, should be supported through a range of initiatives (detailed in the letter) to inspire a love of reading for pleasure in their pupils. 

3. Schools’ use of author visits and longer residencies should be accredited by Ofsted.

Click here to read the letter in full.

Nick Gibb has responded by inviting us to discuss the points raised at a meeting in October. Please continue to leave your comments so that we can submit these to Nick Gibb at this meeting.

Sarah Waters says:

"How many times does this point have to be made to ministers? Books matter. They inspire, they inform, they delight; they encourage independent thought, invention and empathy. At a time when public libraries are being closed down, and when hard-pressed families have ever less money to spend on books, it is absolutely vital that school libraries are made a priority, and that teachers are given every support in fostering literacy. Nicola Solomon's letter gets it absolutely right. The only way in which we will encourage our children to value reading is by demonstrably valuing it ourselves."


Helena Pielichaty, Chair of our Children's Writers and Illustrators Group, says:

"Study after study has shown how children who read for pleasure achieve significantly more, regardless of background, than those who don't. Those achievements are not just in terms of academic success but include social and emotional behaviour too. It makes sense then, to find as many ways of promoting reading for pleasure as possible. Let's have a library at the heart of every school and books at the heart of every library. Let's nurture generations of story-loving, fact-discovering, poetry-guzzling pupils and let's give teachers the tools and time to do it. I truly believe that if we do, educational standards in the UK will rocket."

We encourage you to circulate details of this letter to interested parties and leave a short comment below if you would like to offer support for this or any future campaign regarding children’s literacy.

We also encourage you to tweet about the campaign using the #readingforpleasure hash tag.

Illustration by Nicola Smee


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Please note this page is now closed for comments. If you're a member of the Society, please email Jo McCrum if you have any points you'd like to add.


Non-member comment:
Guest visitor
May 31, 2012, 1:46 pm

Libraries in small communities

As someone living in a small village with a small school I can understand that a full time librarian may be expensive -but they could easily be shared across schools. Also, why not use the resource on our doorsteps, local libraries, who already have trained staff, making them more sustainable in the process. Too much early school reading is based on keywords and set reading texts rather than bringing stories alive for children. Creative writing is also an excellent way to foster a love of stories, and every community is full of underpaid authors who would be only too delighted to help deliver this. Let's start thinking out of our education boxes and make use of the resources our communities have to offer.

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Julia Golding says:
May 31, 2012, 1:33 pm

Julia Golding (and I am a member!) Reading for Pleasure

I'm not surprised that we have been relegated in our reading levels as the poor kids are so driven from pillar to post going up grades that it is easy to forget the fun that can be had from a book.  I'd like primary schools to bring back story time at the end of the day for key Stage 2.  The curriculum has become so packed that this seems to have fizzled out in many areas.  You can start children reading for pleasure by first getting them hooked on stories.


The good news is that the children do really respond when I and other authors visit schools.  It is not too late to reverse the decline - the appetite is there.


And as a comment to the proposals in the letter: I fear it is too ambitious to expect a librarian in every primary school because of the huge variation in size around the country, but perhaps the demand  could be phrased as a share in one?  Oh, but isn't that called a school library service?  Do I detect we are reinventing the wheel - or at least trying to put the wheels back on the stalled reading wagon?

Non-member comment:
Guest visitor
May 31, 2012, 1:32 pm

Why don't you employ authors?

As one of the army of little employed authors out here, I know that it is very difficult to find ways to actually obtain work in schools literacy programmes without this or that teacher training qualification or experience and libraries usually want volunteers. We authors are here. Why don't people seek us out and employ us? Just have a look for us on the Society of Authors' website! We aren't expensive, most of us, and are generally flexible about contract work. If one has had a book published by a known publisher in this economic climate, it's pretty certain one has the skills to help the young and illiterate.

Non-member comment:
Deborah Ecob
May 31, 2012, 1:26 pm

Reading and dyslexia

I have contact with many dyslexic learners who have literacy problems and are struggling to 'catch up' for work or study. Research into successful dyslexic adults clearly highlights that, in order to succeed, dyslexic children must develop an interest in books and reading at an early age. Access to interesting books, fiction and non-fiction (other research shows a divide along gender lines regarding preference) is vital if all children are to reach their potential.

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Sophia Moseley-Houghton says:
May 31, 2012, 1:19 pm

Reading for pleasure

When a child learns how to read, there is something totally wonderful when they also discover just where a story or poem can take them. A book will transport them to places where they will meet people or other living things that they may never have dreamt, it opens up new vistas and creates vast literary canyons that can be filled with their imaginings and own creativity that are stimulated when they read something that captures them and pushes them to read more and more. Books really are food for the brain and fuel for the mind.

Non-member comment:
Ruth Garde
May 31, 2012, 1:09 pm

Reading for pleasure

My 8 year old son often reports the author visits at his school and has discovered new books through their visits, which I find particularly gratifying as, in the past, he has been reluctant to try new books that I suggest to him at home.

Another point I'd like to raise is about how to get children reading for pleasure. My son loves reading certain books and certain kinds of books. In the past, he has found some of the books he has been assigned by the school for reading practice really uninteresting, and I have been very reluctant to force him to read them because he regarded it as a chore rather than a pleasure. I wonder how schools can format reading homework in such a way that this is avoided. The last thing I wanted to do was put him off reading because the books were dull. As it is, he loves reading independently now, so in fact I would rather avoid doing reading homework with him if he doesn't want to do it - he reads his own books anyway and we read other books together.

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David Almond says:
May 29, 2012, 11:55 am

Yes, I definitely support this campaign.

I visit many schools and see at first hand the powerful effects of school libraries, and of author visits. Reading for pleasure should be central to our children's education. A library should be at the heart of every school. It seems to me that the best schools have strong libraries, staffed by proper librarians, and supported by the whole school community.

Non-member comment:
Guest visitor
May 31, 2012, 1:19 pm

Yes, yes, yes!!!!

A timely campaign in these times of cuts which are affecting libraries and schools and thus our children now and in the future. Frankly I'm shocked that having a library in a school isn't already a statutory obligation. Reading for pleasure is an essential part of life and well-being from our earliest years, and I fully support this campaign and am myself getting actively involved in supporting reading for pleasure in schools and libraries (- and in the park, on the bus, in the bath...!)

J. A. Brunning

Non-member comment:
Guest visitor
May 26, 2012, 9:58 am

Children's reading in school

Working as I do in a school which has both, I know that simply ensuring a school has a library and a librarian isn't going to be enough to make primary children read. The powers that be need to have a complete rethink of their expectations on the curriculum and on what they dictate children should have 'covered' by the time they're 11, and let teachers back off from the continual push-push-push to higher, more quickly achieved, attainment.

When I became a primary teacher 20 years ago the 'ERIC' (everyone reading in class) initiative was much lauded and seen in action in one form or another in the majority of the schools I trained and later worked in. Everyone reading literally meant everybody, the whole school stopping to sit and read quietly for 15 minutes, even, on occasion, the headteacher. It was powerful and though there were children who hated it, they at least had 15 minutes reading practice every day if they didn't pick up a book at any other time.

Over the years the curriculum in primary schools has become so tightly packed that reading has been squeezed out, to the extent that I rarely see it happening in classes and if it does, it isn't for any sustained periods of time. Those children who 'hate' reading now don't pick up a book from one month to the next. It's a travesty, and a self-defeating travesty at that.

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Stephen Bowkett says:
May 25, 2012, 12:15 pm

Just wanted to add my support

Just wanted to add my support to the work the Society is doing in making the government more aware of the huge importance of books and reading to children's lives. Nicola Solomon's letter was heartfelt and powerful and completely matches my feelings on the matter. Thank you.

Malorie Blackman says:
May 25, 2012, 12:11 pm

It is astounding that in the

It is astounding that in the 21st century it is not compulsory for each and every school in the country to have a library and a dedicated school librarian. How can the provision of a library service in our country be compulsory in prisons but not in schools? Reading for pleasure leads to reading for education, illumination, communication and instils, nurtures and encourages understanding and empathy - at the very least. As 1 in 3 homes in the UK do not contain books, school libraries play a vital part in creating access to the tools which enable ALL of our children to fulfil their potential.

Sarah Waters says:
May 24, 2012, 3:57 pm

How many times does this

How many times does this point have to be made to ministers? Books matter. They inspire, they inform, they delight; they encourage independent thought, invention and empathy. At a time when public libraries are being closed down, and when hard-pressed families have ever less money to spend on books, it is absolutely vital that school libraries are made a priority, and that teachers are given every support in fostering literacy. Nicola Solomon's letter gets it absolutely right. The only way in which we will encourage our children to value reading is by demonstrably valuing it ourselves.


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Geraldine McCaughrean says:
May 24, 2012, 3:55 pm

To equip a child with

To equip a child with literacy is like equipping them with glasses.  To surround a  child with books is to gift them vision, imagination, a window into other people's lives and an infinitely larger vocabulary than any non-reading child will ever attain.   The school library is not something rendered obsolete by a shiny herd of computers and a label over the door calling it a 'resource centre'.  A school library staffed by qualified librarians performs utterly different functions.  In fact the more technology and computers subsume our children's daily lives, the more they need books and librarians to show them how little true wisdom can be cut-and-pasted.

As the number of books in homes declines, there is more reason than ever to have them there in school, along with the necessary key - I mean a librarian - to unlock the independence of thought and sheer joy they represent.

And until the children's literature module becomes a required part of teacher training and not a voluntary add-on, there is every possibility your child will be taught to 'read' by someone who does not themselves read or know anything about 'real books'.


Non-member comment:
Philip Reeve
May 24, 2012, 3:43 pm


Books are a gateway for children into the worlds of the imagination, and also one of the most important and effective ways in which they learn about the world. A well-stocked library should be at the heart of every school.
Philip Reeve

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Stephen Bowkett says:
May 24, 2012, 3:37 pm

Just wanted to add my support

Just wanted to add my support to the work the Society is doing in making the government more aware of the huge importance of books and reading to children's lives. Nicola Solomon's letter was heartfelt and powerful and completely matches my feelings on the matter. Thank you.

Steve Bowkett.

Non-member comment:
May 23, 2012, 1:25 pm

Vital importance of Good School Libraries

We wholeheartedly welcome and support all the recommendations put forward by The Society of Authors children’s literacy campaign which includes the call to make school libraries and school library staff a statutory and central part of every school reading community. As the main provider of library automation systems to school libraries throughout the UK we often see at first hand the dramatic and empowering difference a well -stocked and managed school library space can make to children’s lives and their attitudes towards reading for enjoyment. MLS

Non-member comment:
May 22, 2012, 1:01 pm

As the questioner who provoked Nick Gibb's reply

As the questioner who provoked Nick Gibb's reply at the recent ATL conference I'm delighted that his acknowledgement of the importance of good school library provision is receiving widespread attention from the media as well as support from organizations such as yours. Thank you.

Lee Mumbray-Williams


Sir William Borlase's Grammar School

Non-member comment:
May 21, 2012, 3:00 pm

There are some wonderful

There are some wonderful examples of what schools can achieve with a little creativity when developing a library. I was reading about this example recently (http://www.sla.org.uk/slda-rosendale-primary-school.php). If only all schools had something similar to encourage children to read more. My own children go to a school with a fantastic library and alway have a book on loan. We even have phone app to track what they read and search for new books which is very good.

Non-member comment:
May 21, 2012, 2:44 pm

The government has

The government has demonstrated that it it prepared to influence changes in other areas of education but always seems to find a way of ignoring this subject. Previous letters from many organisations and individuals have all received standard replies from department staff, which is unacceptable. We still have a situation where libraries are statutory in prisons (and inspected) but not in schools. How can Michael Gove, Nick Gibb and their colleagues fail to see that making libraries statutory in schools, run by people who are passionate about books and reading, is absolutely key to driving up standards in literacy? Children in primary schools must be encouraged to read for enjoyment every single day, to ensure we see an improvement in reading standards by the time they move onto secondary education. I hope the Society of Authors follows up this letter by sending all of these comments to Nick Gibb and Michael Gove to demonstrate the backing this subject has.

Do not give up on this campaign and do not accept the usual standard reply when the letter arrives. Keep going until we get an acceptable, considered response from the DfE and then keep the momentum going.

Non-member comment:
Fat Loss Factor Program
June 7, 2012, 3:22 am

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Alison Leonard says:
May 21, 2012, 10:51 am

Libraries in schools essential - and librarians, too

Thanks so much for this vital campaign. For many years I was a visiting author in schools, and as my novels for young adults often had specialist aspects that needed research, I encouraged the students to choose an unusual theme or setting for their writing and to research it in their school library. Cue red faces among the staff if they hadn't got a proper library, or if their library wasn't well-stocked or sorted by a dedicated librarian! At the end of the session, the young people would be badgering their teachers for a good library and a librarian who could steer them towards the books they needed.

A more subtle point is that libraries are often the corner of the school that vulnerable or bullied children can go for safety. In my experience, school librarians are often unofficial counsellors and their space is a very special one for a whole range of pupils at difficult times in their school lives.

Alison Leonard

Non-member comment:
May 18, 2012, 9:11 pm

Have a Patron of Reading in every school

Absolutely agree! As a head teacher on Wales I am deeply saddened with the new 'initiative' announced this week.Testing children is not going to open then up to reading for pleasure.on hearing that tests were on the way back to 6 year olds it got me thinking.we need a way to turn children into reading for pleasure-not because they have a test to do.schools should encourage reading for pleasure in any way possible.thats why we have the uk's very first Patron of Reading. The buzz this has created amongst the pupils, pretends and staff is astonishing in such a short space of time.it opens up a world to children to develop emotional attachments to authors, poets,playwrites and their work, getting them reading just because reading is a good thing to do.such a simple idea, but ideas can change the works.every school should have a patron of reading. I implore you to get the movement going.


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Alison Leonard says:
May 18, 2012, 4:02 pm

Libraries are essential

I visited a comprehensive school soon after the publication of my young adult novel about the end of Communism, Kiss the Kremlin Goodbye. I told them about my research: how I'd visited Moscow not realising that this would be the week in which the Berlin Wall was opened - then how, when I came back, I needed to read up about how different life was for teenagers in Russia and Estonia from the lives that teenagers live in the West.

Then I asked them to choose an unusual setting for a story and read up all about it, so as to make their stories more realistic and exciting. To do that, they'd need to use the library where we were sitting.

At this point, the teachers looked throughly embarrassed. Blushing, they said, 'We've been without a librarian for almost a year. A teacher does her best, but the place is rather a mess...' And it was. Books on astronomy were jumbled in with books on dinosaurs; encyclopaedias were wedged between Beauty and Banking.

Despite this, we had a terrific day. It was moving to see the young people overcoming all obstacles to enter into the lives of their characters and pick up on fascinating detail to put flesh on the bones of their plot. They learnt how much goes into creating a good story - how you can combine reality with imagination to come up with a real cracker.

At the end of the day, I asked each of them in turn what they'd learned that day. I thought they would talk about the fascinating detail or the amazingly different lives that people lead. But they didn't. One after another, they said, 'I've learned that we need a good library, and a good librarian.'

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Cynan Jones says:
May 18, 2012, 3:28 pm

Cynan Jones

Last year the Dylan Thomas Project invited me to work with four Carmarthenshire schools on a project called "Telling Your Own Story."

I visited each school for three sessions of two hours. The brief was loose, and the key outcome was to encourage the pupils - mostly Yr 9, (13/14yrs old) - to write something. The response was outstanding.

The groups were mostly top sets, or included pupils who teachers felt would really benefit. The level of ability and engagement was excellent, but one thing was immediately clear. Which children read. And which children didn't.

The level of work produced by those who did read was massively higher. Not just the grammar, sentence structure, feel for words - but also the capacity for expression, individuality of imagination, and ability to focus quietly on work.

It's utterly vital to back this campaign.


Side note:

As an 'outcome' the stories have been collected here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Telling-their-Own-Story-ebook/dp/B006O1RL60/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1337351116&sr=1-2 (I could only make it free for 5 days, and 77p is s cheap as it will go!).

All the pupils - around 80 children - produced worthy stories. We left the choice as to whether they then typed them up and forwarded them for 'publication' to the pupils. Two schools failed to get the stories on to me from there, (claiming technology problems, teacher absence and so on), so this collection is the work of two of the four schools.

It gives some idea of the range of writing. Barring a few children, writing a story of their own was a first.

Twitter @cynan1975

Non-member comment:
May 18, 2012, 11:16 am

I was shocked

I was shocked to read that each school does not have a dedicated library. Being a parent and teacher from Canada I know first hand the importance our school system puts on reading and having libraries within each school. My son and daughter, just in the first couple years of Primary school, are both quite excited to get their "beads" from their teachers for their nightly routine of reading. That joy would not be possible without their weekly visit to their library, which is currently being expanded :), to pick out their book(s) for the week. Good luck.

Jay C. Spencer

Non-member comment:
May 18, 2012, 10:39 am

Statutory School Libraries

While the Public Library system is being decimated in some areas, and many children in rural parts of the country do not have access to them anyway, a school library is often the ONLY library a child will ever visit. Not all children can get to a public library. Nearly all children go to school. Ergo, all schools should have libraries so all children have access. When will someone in Government make the connection we have all been making for years?

Angie Edwards, School Librarian

Non-member comment:
May 18, 2012, 9:59 am

How can a school function

How can a school function without a library - for the children and the teachers?

I'm a grandmother, and have a shelf of books for children in my house. But that can never be enough - books should be integral to every child's education. They should learn to find their way around indexing systems, to find the information that need - and to discover unlikely stories along the way. It is part of finding out who they are. That can't be left to families alone.

Non-member comment:
May 18, 2012, 9:53 am

children and literacy

Without something along these lines, there is a definite risk of dividing children up into the highly literate on the one hand (better adapted to the school/further education system) and, on the other, not only illiterate but actually anti-book (except possibly for facebook)

Andy Martin

Non-member comment:
May 18, 2012, 9:19 am

Brilliant link

Completely agree. Linking up the Henley Review and the general encouragement towards reading for pleasure is a fantastic move and if Ofsted could be persuaded to build this into their framework it would then have real teeth.

Steve Willshaw, Creator of Rooted in Reading

Non-member comment:
May 18, 2012, 9:18 am

Statuary school libraries

A school without a library is like a home without a kitchen! I am lucky enough to be a chartered librarian working in a school where reading for pleasure is promoted and we have an author visit every term. Not surprisingly we have the best results in our local authority. School libraries must be statuary.

Non-member comment:
May 18, 2012, 8:10 am


As a former school librarian I cannot express just how strongly I support this - we are losing far too many school libraries across the country and yet those same schools complain that they are having difficulties encouraging students to read for pleasure ......funny that eh? (and I do mean funny peculiar, it's not amusing at all) . Having an author visit the school is so motivating and inspiring for kids, it just doesn't make sense that at the moment this is not recognised by Ofsted. Your letter will hopefully provoke the government to actually put their money where their mouth is and do something to facilitate schools in encouraging our young people to enjoy losing themselves in books - they have paid lip service to the cause without action for far too long. Bravo and thanks to you!

Bev Humphrey Literacy, School Libraries & Technology Consultant @Libwithattitude

Griselda Gifford says:
May 17, 2012, 6:41 pm

Children's Literacy Campaign

I would like to support the Society of Authors' appeal that all schools should have libraries to encourage reading for pleasure (especially now as the Government are closing some public libraries) It's so vital to enjoy books at a young age - to begin the habit of reading just for yourself as well as for information. I'd also like to stress that there should be more encouragement for schools to host author visits - to talk about books and also to arrange workshops to stimulate the children's creative powers.

Griselda Gifford, Author

Non-member comment:
May 17, 2012, 4:36 pm

Libraries Blog

How can children extend their learning without libraries? We, at Hot Key Books have blogged a response to this fantastic letter http://bit.ly/KDueSc

Non-member comment:
May 17, 2012, 4:24 pm

Letter to Nick Gibb

Let's hope that this letter has the desired outcome as many opportunities to keep libraries open both in the community and in schools have been lost resulting in a further deterioration in the nation's reading habits, academic achievement and culture. Access to books can open up a myriad of experiences, emotions, opinions and views that people would not normally come across in their everyday lives thus enriching their life experience. Childhood is an ideal time to begin this journey of enrichment which in time can produce a well rounded, well informed, open minded, intelligent - both intellectually and emotionally- human being capable of the highest form of thought and reasoning enriching both their life and those of others.

Ruth Mackay Librarian, Goffs School Hertfordshire

Non-member comment:
May 17, 2012, 4:10 pm

Statutory school libraries and librarians

Well said - an effective librarian running an effective library will raise reading standards & interest levels, engender a love of books, writing and ideas and develop information literacy - it's so obvious it hardly needs repeating - again ! Come on politicians of all parties - let's have some real support !

Geoff Dubber, Past Chair School Library Association

Non-member comment:
May 17, 2012, 3:08 pm

Absolutely agree!School

Absolutely agree! School libraries and librarians make a huge contribution to the literary and cultural life of a school, as well as their proven impact in raising achievements.

Tricia Adams, Director School Library Association

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Kevin Crossley-Holland says:
May 17, 2012, 3:04 pm

Libraries and imagination

A well-stocked, well-furbished, well-administered and well-patronised library – a place to inspire the imagination and provide information, a place of delight – should be the cornerstone of every primary and secondary school in our country.  If only the government would full-bloodedly espouse and implement this mission, they will be making a profound statement about their commitment to educational standards, and to what it actually means for a society to be civilized.  Here’s a common cause, and an investment in the future, if ever there was one.

Kevin Crossley-Holland, Author and President-Elect of the School Library Association.

Margaret Bateson-Hill says:
May 17, 2012, 2:45 pm

Children's Literacy campaign

As an author who regularly visits schools I have noticed what a difference it makes when there is a dedicated librarian and library. The library becomes a central learning hub for the whole school, children and teachers alike - and not just during lesson time.


Non-member comment:
May 17, 2012, 1:58 pm

Children's Literacy Campaign

I strongly support the Society of Authors' letter and recommendations. It is very sad to see the closure of Schools Library Services, including the Hertfordshire Schools Library Service which closed on 31 March 2012 despite having a reputation as an outstanding service. Many local authorities are closing branches of public libraries in the face of much local opposition. It is vital that there should be a library in every school run by a qualified librarian, who can encourage students and staff to share the pleasure of reading. There are many exciting writers of fiction and non fiction whose work deserve to be widely read and who better than a school librarian to promote them. Authors visits are a great way of encouraging a love of reading and are always memorable events. Reading is thinking, it inspires creativity and encourages curiosity about the world in which we live, everyone should support the recommendations of the Society of Authors.

Janet Leifer - School Librarian, Immanuel College

Non-member comment:
May 17, 2012, 1:40 pm

I support this letter

I strongly urge the government to take note of everything laid out in this letter. Reading is crucial to the development of every child. I wholly support all three suggestions.

Sarah Mussi

Non-member comment:
May 17, 2012, 12:26 pm

Libraries are statutory in

Libraries are statutory in prisons: if a banged-up adult had been a booked-up child, that free mind could have stayed free. So why are libraries not statutory in our schools? I fully believe in the three recommendations and the overwhelming weight of supporting argument in this letter alone. This is in addition to everything that has been said by the Campaign for the Book, Voices for the Library, the School Librarians' Network, the SLA, the SLG . . . I could go on. Countless professional bodies, educationalists, librarians, teachers, writers and standalone book lovers continue to make this case. A child that falls in love with books, falls in love with life - we must give them the sanctuary in which this can happen - the STATUTORY school library.

Dave Cryer

Non-member comment:
May 17, 2012, 1:02 pm

Libraries in schools, books in schools, the love of books

The comments here say it all - the link between books, stories, the worlds they open to young readers, the enlarging of vistas, the freedom of opportunity that comes with literacy are unequivocal - statistically and in the wealth of anecdotal evidence that authors working with children can provide. Children need to be able to find books easily, and they need facilitators to guide them on that journey. Where else but from the knowledge and enthusiasm that librarians can and do bring - a library in school, and its guardian, is the one place that love of story and reading is upheld for its own sake, not merely as a tool for other things. Overwhelming support from me for the recommendations and arguments in the letter.

Beverley Birch, as author, editor, and founder member of Children's Writer's and Illustrators in South London (CWISL)

Kathryn White says:
May 17, 2012, 11:54 am

School libraries lead to public library usage

I attended a Bristol school  on author visit yesterday and was heartened to learn that the staff had organized an outing for each year group to the local library.  These outings took a great deal of commitment and planning by staff and support from parent/carers to bring about.  But the result of this venture was a school filled with enthusiasm for books and children inspired to learn more about the world around them.  Not all of these children have the joy of books at home or parents connecting with libraries within their community.   Every school should have its own library, offering the wealth of literature now available for children to broaden their horizons and learn from.  Ultimately a school library instils in each child  the confidence to go out as adults and use what is theirs by right, the amazing resource and heritage of our public library services.

Kathryn White


Non-member comment:
May 17, 2012, 11:42 am

give reading for pleasure the limelight it deserves

Many teachers I know already aim to inspire a love of reading, and do just that! But with heavy curriculum demands, onerous paperwork and excessive box ticking, even the best intentions can be thwarted. As an author (and a teacher!) I strongly endorse the proposal by the Society of Authors to give reading for pleasure the limelight it deserves in our schools; to give teachers the resources and support they need, and to praise and reward good practice.

Ruth Eastham

Non-member comment:
May 17, 2012, 11:40 am

Sally Goldsworthy, Discover Children's Story Centre

Thank you for such a clear and important statement. There has been a lot in the media recently about large numbers of children who have no books at home,school libraries are absolutely the most effective way to make sure that all children can have access to as many books as they can read. As others have said enabling children to experience the joy of stories and language through meeting authors, telling and hearing stories and reading fantastic books is vital to children's well being and future outcomes. Reading and books do matter. In the UK we have brilliant children's authors and illustrators, whose books are translated throughout the world, let's make sure that teachers and children have the resources and time to discover them. Time for the government to think beyond tests and short-term targets, lets create readers for life.

Sally Goldsworthy, Discover Children's Story Centre.

Non-member comment:
Keith Gray
May 17, 2012, 10:23 am

A well-stocked library and

A well-stocked library and dedicated librarian can be the hub of any good school, with spokes shooting out into every classroom and all areas of the curriculum. It's ridiculous to claim a school is providing a fully-rounded education if it is not encouraging reading for pleasure in all its forms. School libraries are essential for every teacher and every pupil.

Keith Gray

Non-member comment:
Steve Barlow
May 17, 2012, 10:17 am

School Libraries

Steve Skidmore and I opened two brand spanking new school libraries last year, which was a privilege and very good news. In many schools staff are working very hard to see that their pupils have the opportunity to enjoy reading for pleasure and the importance of libraries is understood. But in others, sadly, it is not. Too many schools feel they only have the time, energy and resources to teach their pupils what they need to succeed (and therefore maintain the school's reputation) in national tests and public examinations. It is the duty of the Department for Education and OFSTED not only to set mandatory standards for enabling children in our schools to access appropriate and up to date books, to meet authors and to appreciate the value of reading for pleasure, but also to make it part of OFSTED's remit to assess how well a school is performing in this regard and comment on this issue prominently in their report on the school. Only then will all schools be encouraged to give reading for pleasure the prominence it deserves in the lives of our children.

Steve Barlow

Non-member comment:
May 17, 2012, 10:03 am

Children's Literacy Campaign

Books are the building blocks of learning and learning is the corner stone of civilisation. When a child learns to read, it is up there amongst the great 'firsts' and I well remember the emotions I felt when my sons began to read unaided. To understand that the thousands of shapes are actually words and then to realise just what you can do with those words is beyond value. Each new word learnt is a step closer to greater wisdom and no one should undervalue the power of reading and writing. Reading and writing go hand in hand and make you a stronger person; it is one of life's great achievements when you discover you know how to express yourself in a way that makes others sit up and listen.

Sophia Moseley

Celia Rees says:
May 17, 2012, 9:28 am

Libraries in schools

This is an excellent statement of aims and let us hope they become government policy. Reading in schools improves standards in every area of the curriculum and needs to be enabled, encouraged and fostered.  This is impossible without a well stocked library with a qualified Librarian to run it. 

Profile picture of comment
Bali Rai says:
May 16, 2012, 11:28 pm

Bali Rai - CWIG Committee

Any school without a library and a librarian does no favours to its pupils. Indeed, it does them a great disservice. For our youngsters to achieve their potential, they need to engage in reading for pleasure - as numerous studies have shown. It is one of the fundamentals of education and we must promote reading for pleasure at every opportunity. I endorse our General Secretary's statement wholeheartedly and urge anyone with an interest in educational standards to do likewise. Literacy is too important not to lend your name to this campaign. 



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