In 2008, we reported on a UK program called Bookstart, through which United Kingdom residents could send text messages to get free storybooks for their children. David Rothman compared the program to the American program Reading Is Fundamental, which was imperiled by budget cutbacks.

It has been no secret that funding for libraries and similar programs has been under siege in the UK as well as the US during the last year or so, and just now Neil Gaiman retweeted this unpleasant news from the website of Booktrust, the foundation behind Bookstart:

Booktrust had notification on Friday 17 December from the Department for Education that funding for all our English bookgifting programmes (Bookstart, Booktime and Booked Up) will be cut by 100% from 1 April 2011. Please note that this news applies to England only.

We are immensely surprised and disappointed by this decision and know that families, teachers, librarians, health visitors, our publishing partners and many others up and down the country will be sharing these feelings. We passionately believe in these programmes and the proven extraordinary transformative power of reading for pleasure.  We will be consulting with our partners and exploring alternative funding opportunities to do our utmost to make sure that every child continues to be given the opportunity to develop a lifelong love of books.

It is really disappointing to see the forces of literacy take another hit from the slings and arrows of the poor economy. Hopefully the organization can find other ways of continuing its mission.


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