From the website of No. 10 (Downing St.)

8 02 2008

Can we do something like this too, Mr Rudd? It sounds heavenly, and I’d love to be a reading coordinator.

 Gordon Brown and Education Secretary Ed Balls were joined by a group of schoolchildren and children’s writers at 10 Downing Street today for the launch of the National Year of Reading.

Children from City of London Academy and Loxford School of Science and Technology created ‘reading corners’ with beanbags and cushions and chatted with the Prime Minister about their favourite books.

The 2008 National Year of Reading has been launched to help build a greater national passion for the pastime among children, families and adult learners alike.

At the launch, Ed Balls called for every employer, school, library, college and local authority to get involved and sign up to the campaign by logging on to the National Year of Reading website.

Mr Balls said:

“I want every school, college, library and employer to pledge to join in with the Year of Reading by signing up online. If local communities, authors, broadcasters, celebrities and employers come on board we can really bring about a long-term change in the nation’s attitudes to reading.

“Books are at the heart of the Year’s activities but all reading ‘counts’. Newspapers, magazines, poetry, song lyrics, screenplays and blogs will all feature as part of the Year’s activities.”

Campaigns and activities to boost reading throughout the year will be led by 146 ‘reading coordinators’ working with local authorities.

Suggested activities include employers making their work place more reader-friendly by turning their old smoking rooms into mini-libraries and encouraging parents to spend ten minutes a day reading with their children.

Want to know more?  There’s this from the Telegraph,  or watch the story on youtube (link below).

In response, the BBC asks, do you need to read books to be clever? Apparently Victoria Beckham claims to have never read a book, but I don’t believe everything I read. 




2 responses

9 02 2008
Georgia Phillips

Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families!! now there’s a position! Ed Balls, who holds this august title, also announced:

“Building on schemes which already exist to encourage reading, such as Booked Up (which provides free books for Year 7 pupils) and Boys into Books, Ed Balls also announced today that under a new scheme, Book Ahead, School Library Services and public libraries will be given up to half a million free books to make up book boxes for local nurseries, as part of a £5 million drive to get more under 5s – especially boys – into reading early.”

(Hmm, remember circulating book boxes to small schools in NSW? This was before schools had staffed school libraries.)

See more background information on the UK School Library Association site

And while “Romans” read are their libraries burning? School library services have been decreasing in staffing and funding in the UK for decades. The last funded research report can be found at

Absolutely we want to see a national year of reading in Australia – but together with a NATIONAL YEAR OF THE SCHOOL LIBRARY 🙂

9 02 2008

Okay, I have to agree with Georgia – it has to be in partnership with school – and public – libraries – but the library is everywhere.
A lot of the lists are heavy with fiction books (which is a good thing for the industry), but ‘reading widely’ should also allow readers to count newspapers, NF, magazines, zines, poetry, and the form guide if that’s what they read with their grandad.
The expertise of TLs and librarians and library technicians and assistants must be recognised at the local level because it is our job to guide/inform/educate/encourage readers. With all written material; postmodern, hightech, lowtech, traditional, informational, entertaining, paper or electronic.
Does anyone have a smashing reference to the benefits of reading that we could all put at the head of our blogs? Mine needs such a one –
Yes to a National Year of Reading in Australia – on the beach, in a plane, at the gym, at school, in bed, in the park, in the cafe, with a friend, under a tree (I had my tree picked out at Hobart’s Botanical Gardens). For all – celebration of reading shouldn’t stop when you leave school.

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