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Page 3 Profile: Julia Donaldson, author and children's laureate

Angered by closure of libraries?

Julia Donaldson, Children's Laureate and the author of the popular Gruffalo books, has been vocal in her opposition to the "erosion" of the library service across the country. She is by no means the only writer angered by the number of library doors being slammed shut, but on this occasion her opinions could prove a little more controversial. She told i that children should be taught to read through acting out plays, as reading aloud in class from books is now too "wooden" to excite today's children. It conjures, she claims, an image of being tested.

In our day you read when you were told to and you enjoyed it

Donaldson said that when she acted as a "parent helper" in her child's primary school, she wrote some "short and simple plays" to involve the children. "It worked a treat," she said. They "loved having a part to read and they started putting much more expression into the words."

But will teachers have the time?

Today, the author is launching a new series of playlets for schools – Bug Club Plays To Read, published by Pearson. Authors taking part include Vivian French, Alison Hawes and Steve Skidmore, Steve Barlow. All the plays are designed for five-to-seven-year-olds. She said that by giving the strongest readers the biggest parts and then swapping the roles later, less confident readers get the chance to shine. It's a timely warning that more children should be encouraged to enjoy reading.

A study by the National Literacy Trust last month warned reading standards were likely to drop as a result of fathers being too seduced by the "Xbox in the corner which gives you 15 TV channels at the flick of a switch".

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