Walliams calls for better access to reading, ‘safeguarding’ of libraries

Walliams calls for better access to reading, ‘safeguarding’ of libraries

David Walliams has called for better access to reading and for libraries to be safeguarded, revealing he would introduce new laws on children’s literacy if he were prime minister. 

The hugely popular children’s author, whose latest book The Ice Monster (HarperCollins Childrens) is currently occupying the top position in the Nielsen BookScan bestseller charts, has said he wants to “safeguard libraries” and improve access to books for children. 

Walliams told the Radio Times of the changes he would make if he was prime minister. He said: “I’d ... introduce new laws on children’s literacy. Whenever I am filming around the country I try to make time to go into a school and give out copies of my books. World Book Day provides books for children and for a quarter of the kids, it’s the first book they ever own. So I’d want to improve access to reading and safeguard libraries.

“I used to go to the library every couple of weeks with my mum and dad and get out books like Stig of the Dump and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. My son is five and a half, and when we read together, it’s the most magical time. But I know that’s a luxury not everybody has. So as prime minister I’d improve that situation.”

His comments come as the latest library statistics compiled by CIPFA, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, revealed more library closures, staff cuts and a drop in library visits and book loan numbers. Libraries in England have had funding slashed for the fifth year in a row. 

National charity The Library Campaign said further cuts to services were “like taking a hammer to a wall that’s already full of holes”.

Earlier today the National Literacy Trust launched its Christmas appeal calling on people people to donate £5 to give a disadvantaged child their own book or for businesses to buy a ‘literacy toolkit’, which includes 50 books, for a local primary school.

23% of children who have more than 60 books at home have a better than average reading ability. The figure drops, however to 4.2% of those who have fewer than 10 books, according to the ‘Book ownership, literacy engagement and mental wellbeing’ survey of 44,097 children aged 8-18 in the UK, carried out in 2018,

The 47-year-old comedian has seen his and illustrator Tony Ross’ The Ice Monster (HarperCollins) enter a fourth week in the UK Official Top 50 number one spot, selling 76,945 copies in the last week — with nearly 365,000 copies sold in less than a month.