Rosen reads for Letterbox

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Children's Laureate Michael Rosen performed his work for London schoolchildren at a reading event last week to celebrate 25 years of the independent multicultural bookseller Letterbox Library.

Mr Rosen, who suggested having the celebration after he was approachedto comment on the company's success, held one of three workshops alongwith other children's authors and illustrators at Hoxton Hall inHackney.

He said, 'Ideally, every school and playgroup in the country would beusing Letterbox Library's catalogue, if for no other reason than tobalance the mass-market book club catalogues and book fairs which do notserve the reading needs of all children.'

Letterbox Library was started in 1983 by two Hackney mothers from theirliving rooms, who were concerned at the small numbers of non-sexist,multicultural children's books that were readily available. Since thefounders left to pursue other ventures the company has been run by aworkers' co-operative.

Kerry Mason, director of Letterbox Library, said, 'Like manyco-operatives, Letterbox Library was set up to meet a need - in thiscase, for all our children to see themselves in the books theyread.'

Letterbox Library now has a catalogue of 270 books and 6,500 members,who pay 5 a year to join and receive discounts.

Titles in the catalogue are chosen to represent children all over theworld, including those with disabilities and impairments, and theyaddress issues such as bullying, bereavement, separation and migration.The books are reviewed by volunteers to ensure they are of the highestquality.

Current titles include (pictured) Global Babies by the Global Fund forChildren, The Animal Boogie by Debbie Harter and Shades of Black bySandra L Pinkeny. Letterbox hopes to introduce books featuring blackhistory published in the UK and stories that represent mixed racechildren. The company also has plans to publish its own books.

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