Waterstones Children’s Laureate (2022-2024), Joseph Coelho, visited Taunton Library to inspire a love of reading in young people on Wednesday 12 July. As part of his nationwide ‘Library Marathon’, Joseph is championing local libraries and the vital role they play within the community.

The award-winning performance poet, playwright and children’s author is visiting and joining a library in every local authority in the UK, more than 200 libraries in total, with the aim of encouraging everyone, young and old, to join their local library.

So far, Coelho has visited 176 libraries. At his visit to Taunton Library he registered for his own library card, borrowed several books, as well as reading to and performing for local students from Minerva Primary school.

Joseph said:

Libraries made me a writer and make communities thrive. They have been a vital part of my life: from living on estates where I had a library next door, to my first Saturday job, to working at the British Library whilst studying at UCL, to touring theatre shows designed to be performed in libraries. I’m immensely grateful to libraries and the services they provide, so I want to use my platform as the Waterstones Children’s Laureate to champion these essential launchpads of learning. I want to hug every library, these miraculous institutions where new horizons line the shelves, where minds go to grow.

Claire Winter, Executive Director for Children, Families and Education at Somerset Council, said:

My father was a librarian and instilled in me a lifelong love of reading. It’s fantastic that children in Somerset get a chance to see Joseph’s passion for reading and learn how easy it is to go to a local library and get access to amazing books. Children who read often and enjoy it, build a larger vocabulary and, through stories, develop their emotional skills. This can open up so many opportunities, not only at school but ambition for their future careers and resilience as the move through adult life.

I’d love to imagine that in future years one of those children who listened to Joseph today will be visiting Somerset schools and libraries with their own published books, stories and poems to inspire even more local children

The ‘Library Marathon’ is one of three major initiatives announced by the current Waterstones Children’s Laureate, which is managed by BookTrust, the UK’s largest children’s reading charity, as part of his two year tenure. Coelho’s other campaigns include the ‘Poetry Prompts’ weekly online series, which celebrates the power of poetry in all its forms, and ‘Bookmaker Like You’, which aims to showcase a diversity of new talent within the book industry so that every child can see themselves as a bookmaker.

Diana Gerald, Chief Executive of BookTrust said:

Libraries are essential community hubs for children and families and with the current cost of living crisis, can offer a safe and warm space, packed full of fabulous books that will inspire children of all ages on their reading journeys. Sharing stories and reading together with children has been proven to bring children wide-ranging benefits that can positively affect their lives. If Joseph’s Library Marathon has inspired you to visit your own local library, talk to the librarians – they are experts and can support you to find books and stories that you and your child will enjoy reading together.

Pictured: Liz Dawson (Service Director for Culture), Joseph Coelho, and Christina Evans (Library manager and Development Officer)

Liz Dawson (Service Director for Culture), Joseph Coelho, and Christina Evans (Library manager and Development Officer)

About this article

July 18, 2023

Gary Smith

Children and Families