Every eight-year-old child in England will be enrolled at their local library in a government bid to improve literacy, education secretary Nicky Morgan has said.
Ms Morgan, writing alongside comedian David Walliams in the Daily Telegraph, said literacy levels are a matter of social justice as children who are more adept at reading are more likely to succeed in life.
The announcement comes in the wake of a 2013 OECD report which found English young adults have among the lowest literacy levels in the developed world, with the country ranking 22nd out of 24 countries included in the study of 16 to 24-year-olds.
Ms Morgan and Walliams said every child in the country deserves the opportunity to read.
The pair wrote: “Improving children’s literacy should be a national mission.
“Whether that means teachers running book clubs, schools enrolling pupils in libraries, publishers donating books, or simply parents reading with their children.
“One in five children still leaves primary school unable to read well enough to succeed at secondary school – a figure that rises to one in three of our poorest children. And, if we don’t address illiteracy, it’s the disadvantaged who miss out most of all.
“This is a question of social justice. People with strong reading skills are overwhelmingly more likely to succeed at school, achieve good qualifications, and find a rewarding and enjoyable career.
“They are even more likely to enjoy good health. By contrast, those who don’t master reading in school suffer the consequences for the rest of their lives, where they may struggle to get good jobs or achieve their full potential.
“No matter where they live or what their background, every single child in this country deserves the opportunity to read, to read widely, and to read well.”