14/01/2015 13:21 GMT | Updated 20/05/2015 10:12 BST

Helen Skelton Says Academics Make Reading 'Uncool' For Kids


TV presenter Helen Skelton says children are being put off reading by academics who keep 'banging on' about it.

The former Blue Peter star said reading was now regarded as 'not cool' by kids because they're constantly lectured about how important it is. Instead, Helen, who is judging a children's book award for schools, said young people should be given the freedom to discover the books they love, without pressure to read worthy tomes.

She said: "Kids are smart and there's no point lecturing them. Reading has become something that education and academics bang on about, which has made it 'not cool'.

"Actually, it's one of the most accessible things anybody can do. It's not about reading War and Peace, it's about finding something you love whatever that may be."

She added: "I was brought up with books in my room, not a telly, and heading to the library was a family ritual. Stories and story tellers have been part of my life for as long as I can remember and my world would be much more boring without them."

The presenter, whose debut children's book is out in May, is a member of the World Book Day Award judging panel, which offers schools the chance to win thousands of pounds-worth of books for their libraries.

The award, made possible by a £50,000 donation from author James Patterson, will ask children to respond to the statement 'why we can't live without books'.

Entries can be made in the form of stories, art, film or photography, with the winning schools being announced on March 5.

James said: "Right now we need places where kids can go and talk about books – and libraries are those places. Children have a fundamental right to libraries in schools and a right to access to books that will interest them."

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