Booktrust 'Reading Together' campaign joins forces with all 12 Children's Laureates

Friday 19th January 2024

BookTrust has joined forces with every single Waterstones Children's Laureate from the past 25 years - including BookTrust's President Sir Michael Morpurgo and first Children's Laureate, Sir Quentin Blake - to call on the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition to commit to a long-term investment in books and reading for children under seven.
In an unprecedented open letter published on 17 January 2024, all 12 Laureates have joined together with BookTrust to ask the Government and the Opposition to commit to helping every low-income family become one which reads together because "it is not right that children from poorer backgrounds are deprived of a life that is rich in reading".
Representing Britain's best-loved creators of books for children, the 12 authors and illustrators highlight compelling evidence for the wide-ranging benefits given to children who are read to early on, citing a profound impact on educational success, language development, mental well-being and relationships.
Children who read are more likely to overcome disadvantage – but alarming statistics reveal how little family reading is actually happening.
Despite 95% of parents with children under seven knowing how crucial reading is, new statistics in research show that one in five children aged 0-4 have a book read to them less than once a month.
These findings underscore further BookTrust research which indicates that less than half of children are read a bedtime story, and only half of children aged between one and two from low-income families are read to daily. Statistics, also from this year, indicate that around a quarter of parents (26%) with children aged 0-7 find reading with their child challenging. 
With an increasing number of children in the UK living in poverty due to the cost-of-living crisis, the Laureates are calling for comprehensive support for low-income families, explaining that without a national approach more and more children will miss out.
 "Reading Together, BookTrust's inspired new and timely initiative, will aim to ensure that millions more of our children have the sure start they need to discover early the enjoyment of reading, and so have the opportunity to hear and read stories and poems, that is their right." - Sir Michael Morpurgo, BookTrust President
Reading Together is informed by BookTrust's decades of experience of working with millions of families and thousands of local partners, including health visitors, nurseries, schools, libraries and food banks. They are sharing four proposals intended to prompt a national debate about how the UK can lay down foundations for a child's start in life and establish a comprehensive programme for reading with the under-sevens. The proposals aim to:
  • Embed reading in the life of every low-income family by providing books, resources and reading experiences
  • Provide sustained support, books and resources to help vulnerable children and families who can benefit most from the special characteristics of reading together
  • Help midwives, health visitors, librarians, family support workers and early years teachers promote family reading
  • Help primary teachers become even more powerful advocates for reading for pleasure
"We want our Reading Together campaign to start the conversation around how we can transform children's lives because there has never been a more urgent time for us to inspire a new generation of children on their reading journeys." -  BookTrust's CEO Diana Gerald MBE