Writers' plea on childhood illiteracy

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The Independent Online

More than 500 writers including Nick Hornby, Ian Rankin, Joanna Trollope, Kate Mosse and Alexander McCall Smith have called on Gordon Brown to confront childhood illiteracy.

They are signatories to a letter written to the Prime Minister calling for "a push" on the issue, so that "no child is left behind". The letter says: "As authors, we are deeply concerned at the low levels of childhood literacy across Britain ... In a complex world, reading has become increasingly important if not crucial."

The 545 writers cite official statistics that show one in five 11-year-olds leaving primary school is unable to read to the minimum standard for the age group.

Children should be taught to read at school for an hour a day until they can do so properly, they say.

The letter was delivered to Downing Street yesterday by Mosse, Sophie Kinsella, last year's biggest selling author, and Amanda Ross, the executive producer of Richard and Judy who is credited with introducing the TV couple's highly influential book club.

Other signatories include the Poet Laureate Andrew Motion, the Girl With A Pearl Earring author Tracy Chevalier, the We Need To Talk About Kevin writer Lionel Shriver, and Jackie Collins.

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