The Waterstones Children’s Laureate signed up to a library on Portland as part of his nationwide ‘Library Marathon’ tour.

Joseph Coelho visited Dorset Council’s Tophill library in his epic cross-country mission to join a library in every local authority in the UK – more than 200 libraries in total – with the aim of encouraging people, young and old, to join their local library.

The award-winning performance poet, playwright, and children’s author has been championing local libraries and the vital role they play within the community and inspiring a love of reading in young people.

He 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.”

Coelho has visited over 165 libraries across the UK as part of his ‘Library Marathon’ tour.

While at Portland’s Tophill Library, he registered for a library card, borrowed a book, and read to and performed for the children in the library.

Cllr Laura Beddow, Dorset Council’s Portfolio Holder for Culture and Communities, said: “It’s been an honour and a pleasure to host Joseph and support his Library Marathon tour.

"His infectious enthusiasm for libraries reflects our strong belief that they are at the heart of our communities, and our recently drafted Library Strategy sets out how they will remain as such whilst providing an enhanced offer.

“On behalf of Portland’s residents and our hard-working Library Service colleagues, I want to thank Joseph for the work he’s doing in getting people to join and support their local library. Everyone who attended on Friday had a brilliant time, and we wish him all the best for the rest of the tour.”

The ‘Library Marathon’ will culminate in a special, public event at the British Library to mark National Libraries Week 2023.

Diana Gerald, Chief Executive of BookTrust added: “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.”

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.