“I have visited libraries in every library authority in the UK: from large Carnegie libraries to tiny libraries in converted one-bedroom flats, on busses and even bikes. The dedication and passion of librarians has been inspiring – not only offering book recommendations, but also safe havens for people to be warm, to feel less socially isolated, to learn new skills or simply to weigh their newborn babies. Libraries have always played a vital part of my life, and so it has been wonderful to see librarians use my visits as an opportunity to get new people to sign up. I hope that the Library Marathon has encouraged many new members into the library and reminded many existing members of all the wonderful work these essential spaces carry out.”
Joseph Coelho, Waterstones Children’s Laureate 2022–2024
Waterstones Children’s Laureate (2022-2024) – Joseph Coelho – is set to complete his epic nationwide Library Marathon during National Libraries Week (2-8 October 2023), the annual showcase and celebration of libraries.
Libraries have formed a ‘vital part’ of Coelho’s life, and his Library Marathon is a heart-felt homage to the important role they play within communities and inspiring a love of reading in young people. It is a call for people, young and old, to join their local library.
Across this extraordinary feat, the current Children’s Laureate – who is an award-winning performance poet, playwright, and children’s author – has so far joined 204 libraries and by the end of National Libraries Week, the total will have reached a record 213 libraries.
NATIONAL LIBARIES WEEK ‘LIBRARY MARATHON’ FINALE:
- Bury Library (Bury) on 3 October at 10am
- Warrington Central Library on 3 October (Warrington) at 2pm
- St Helens Library – The World of Glass on 4 October (St Helens) at 10am
- Kirkby Library on 4 October (Knowsley) at 11:30am
- Bootle Library (Sefton) on 4 October at 2:30pm
- Henry Bloom Noble Library (Isle of Man) on 5 October at 10:30am
- Birkenhead Central Library (The Wirral) on 6 October at 9:30am
- Liverpool Central Library (Liverpool) on 6 October at 2pm
- The British Library (London) on 7 October at 11am
At each of these visits, Coelho will register for a library card, borrow a book, as well as read to and perform for school children visiting the library.
For the last event on Saturday 7 October – after a jam-packed week on the road visiting libraries up and down the UK – Coelho will cycle, on his trademark homemade bamboo bike, into the courtyard of the British Library where he will register for his final library card and kick off a spectacular day of books and reading. The British Library Family Day special – called ‘Book Adventurers’ and curated in collaboration with BookTrust and Joseph Coelho – is free and welcomes children of every age and stage. It will feature workshops, storytelling and talks aplenty courtesy of an exciting line-up of writers, illustrators, book-creators, dancers, storytellers, puppeteers and artists, including much loved author and former Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Michael Rosen.
Further information about Coelho’s ‘Library Marathon’ – which has seen him register with a library in every local authority in the UK, as well as Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man – and his two-year tenure as Waterstones Children’s Laureate, managed by the UK’s largest children’s reading charity, BookTrust, can be found here. More information about ‘Family Day: Book Adventurers’ at the British Library can be found on www.bl.uk.
Diana Gerald, Chief Executive at BookTrust, said:
“Joseph’s Library Marathon has been a heroic effort and a fabulous way to highlight the crucial role that libraries play in giving children access to a wide range of books and engaging them with reading through activities and events. This matters because we know from research that children who read regularly and who enjoy reading are happier and do better at school than those who do not. They are more creative and empathetic and go on to do better in life. In these times when money is tight, families need their local libraries more than ever to help make sure that their children get the very best out of life.”