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Rosen heads industry reading campaign
07.06.09 | Caroline Horn
Children's publishers, authors, retailers, librarians and reading organisations will meet next week in an unprecedented show of solidarity to back a new children's reading campaign called Just Read.
The campaign, which is spearheaded by the PA and Society of Authors' children's groups, will explore how the industry can support schools in encouraging children to read more in both volume and variety.
Children's Laureate Michael Rosen said: "I think we are in desperate need of a national policy on reading. At the moment we have policies on ‘literacy' and ‘learning to read' and there's an assumption that reading can look after itself. It can't. Children who come from homes where reading books is encouraged read books. Most of the children who come from homes where that isn't taking place aren't brought into daily contact with the excitement of books."
The idea for an industry-wide campaign was sparked by a meeting last autumn between children's publishers and authors to explore how they could work together to promote reading. Celia Rees, chair of CWIG (Children's Writers & Illustrator's Group of the Society of Authors) said: "We all believe passionately that children should read more and the way to do that seems to be through schools. This meeting will get people together in one place, at the same time, to discuss how we can get schools excited about reading."
The campaign is taking as its starting point a BBC4 programme, aired in the spring, in which Rosen encouraged a primary school to adopt certain strategies to become a "reading school". The programme explored 20 key activities suggested by the poet, including inviting local bookshops to support author events, visiting libraries and running book clubs for teachers, parents and children. His approach was shown to work.
Next week representatives from a range of industry organisations will debate how they can support Rosen's 20 "action points". Elaine McQuade, chair of the PA's childrens' group, said: "We will use the programme to launch a discussion, with the industry and with teachers, about how best we can support schools in becoming reading schools."
Rosen added: "We need to combine the efforts and ideas of all the agencies acting on behalf of reading."