Tuesday, August 30, 2005

From an article on Booktrust's work, originally for the Booked! conference and book, published January 2004 by Audiences Yorkshire.

However busy people are in the modern world, they tend to find time for watching telly, getting exercise, having sex, eating out - these activities are seen as part of leading a busy life; but reading still gets relegated to the sparest of time: when you’re stuck on a train, can’t sleep at night, have absolutely nothing else to do but sit on the beach in the sun.

A major survey of reading habits in 1994 found that over 42% of those people who didn’t read books said this was because they “didn’t have time”. Far fewer – 29% - said they didn’t enjoy reading.
Booktrust works closely with authors, with people who publish, market and sell books, with organisations whose first aim is to increase literacy levels, library loans and footfall, bookshops sales and educational attainment. Of course our work supports all of these things, but I think our main aim at Booktrust is: to make more booktime.

By that I mean more hours spent by the widest range of people, of all ages and backgrounds, enjoying books, reading for pleasure, reading them creatively and confidently, thinking and talking about them, sharing books with others.


Andrew Motion talks about baby books at the Bookstart conference 2004


Gaby Holm and Majo de Saadeleer, German and Flemish members of EU*READ, the alliance of reading promotion organisations of which Booktrust is a member. EU*READ is campaigning for more Bookstart schemes across Europe.

Representatives from Japanese and South Korean Bookstart.


"Creative Reading" was the term we coined when I worked with Rachel Van Riel in Sheffield Libraries back in the 80's where we set up the Opening the Book Festival. In Sheffield we found a way of doing literature promotion which started with readers. It has developed over the years into the Reader Development movement in public libraries, spearheaded by the amazing Rachel's Opening The Book organisation and now The Reading Agency.

Creative Reading cuts across the division of books into educational and for pleasure. It's about the individual's journey through reading and how we locate those books which speak particularly to us, and lead us somewhere special. It invites readers to talk about what their books mean to them, how they enrich their lives in that way that only books can.

And although libraries provide access to literature, neither they nor the bookshops are where reading happens. Booktrust is an independent organisation, defending the independence of the reader who may find their books in shops, schools, libraries, websites, car boot sales… but they read them in the midst of their whole lives, in time which is personal, pleasurable, exploratory, creative - and very precious.

(Winners and judges and authors and publishers at the launch of 'Underwords', Booktrust London Short Story Competition Anthology, published by Maia Press 2005.)


K. Sello Duiker, South Arican novelist in residence at Booktrust in 2002 with Anne Fine, ex-Children's Laureate.
Tragically Sello took his life last year. We remember him as an exceptional talent and a lovely man.

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