Dozens of authors and members of the public have come forward to show their support for a teenager who was bullied for his love of reading.
Callum Manning, a 13-year-old from South Shields, has an Instagram page called Cal’s Book Account where he posts book recommendations. His classmates from his new school found out about it and created a WhatsApp group to bully the teen, leaving him in tears.
When his sister Ellis Landreth found out and wrote about it on Twitter, things started to turn around.
Ellis posted a picture of Callum’s Instagram account and wrote: “Can’t believe how awful kids are. My little brother [has] made an Instagram reviewing and talking about books and kids in his new school have seen it and have created a group chat calling him a creep, slagging him off about it and added him to it so he could see.”
Her tweet has since gained more than 180,000 likes and Callum’s Instagram account now has more than 225,000 followers – plus support from high profile authors.
Matt Haig urged his followers to follow Callum’s account on Instagram. The tweet gained more than 2.2k likes and led to a surge of support for the teen. The author later tweeted to offer Callum some free books to add to his collection.
Dozens of others authors also pledged to follow Callum’s account or send him books, including David Nicholls, Caroline Kepnes, Malorie Blackman and Giles Paley-Phillips.
Author Christopher Golden offered to donate books to Cal’s school library in his name.
Members of the public have also made kind offers. Digital marketing consultant Rob Knowles offered to send Cal a signed first edition of Origin by Dan Brown.
Others have offered to send Cal books or gift cards so he can grow his collection and continue reviewing.
Over on Instagram, Callum’s posts have inspired some heartfelt messages about the power of reading.
One Instagram follower, @bookishbranton, wrote: “Reading is one of the most magical things on earth. To be able to live different lives, be everything at once, feel everything, understand different people, different circumstances, and different loves. It’s a love some don’t understand but ignore the hate because you’re amazing, and to those who hate I say this; find the right book for you and you will never look down upon [someone] who loves to do so.”
Another follower, @savemethecrumbs, said Callum inspired them to start reading. “Never stop reading Cal. For as long as you read and share your thoughts I will follow,” they wrote. “And guess what, you’ve inspired me to pick up a book! I haven’t read one in over three months and it’s high time I get back to reading. Thanks for the encouragement my friend.”
People have also offered to chat to Callum about books, as well as sharing their own stories to give him motivation for the future.
Action Jackson, a motivational speaker who goes into schools to promote happiness, sent Callum a video, saying: “Great people who are doing great things need haters, because haters fuel us to do more of what we do.
“I’m a big fan of what you’re doing because I believe that readers become leaders.”
Callum’s mum, Carla Landreth, told PA Media the support over the weekend has made a huge difference,
“On Friday night he was in tears,” she said. “He was absolutely devastated that people could be so cruel. And since this has been happening, his confidence has soared. He’s a lovely kid, he’s a very loving kid, and he’s just saying, ‘I can’t believe these people want to follow me on Instagram and want to send me stuff’.
“We’re just so shocked. It’s been absolutely brilliant. He’s just over the moon.”