Children's authors join Save the Children campaign

Children's laureate Julia Donaldson has joined with 24 other authors and illustrators to warn that malnutrition is damaging literacy around the world.

Donaldson has called upon the G8 nations, who are meeting in London in June for a global summit on nutrition, to improve their funding for nutrition programmes and develop literacy.

The campaign is based on research produced by charity Save the Children, whose Food for Thought report shows that chronically malnourished children are 20% less literate than those with a healthier diet, and less able to read or write a simple sentence. The research also shows that children who are malnourished in their first two years will suffer permanent damage.

Donaldson is backing the campaign along with dozens of others, including Eoin Colfer, David Walliams, Charlie Higson, Michael Morpurgo, Philip Pullman and Francesca Simon.

The Gruffalo author said: "The devastating impact of malnutrition shouldn't be underestimated. It stunts a child's development, sapping the strength of their minds as well of their body, depriving them of the chance to be able to read or write a simple sentence. Leaders attending this summit have a golden opportunity to stop this. They must invest more funding to tackle malnutrition if we are to stop a global literacy famine."

Save the Children chief executive John Forsyth said: "No child should be so badly malnourished that they are left permanently damaged, struggling to read or write a simple sentence. We have made huge progress tackling child mortality globally, but hunger is an Achilles' heel and threatens to drag back progress. World leaders attending the summit must step up to tackle hunger."