Waterstones Children's Laureate Joseph Coelho set to complete epic library marathon

Published on: 01 October 2023

Joseph Coelho will complete his epic journey during National Libraries Week with an event at the British Library.

Joseph Coelho showing off his library card at Stevenage Library - photo © Simon O'Connor

Photo: Simon O'Connor

Waterstones Children's Laureate Joseph Coelho is due to complete his epic library marathon this week, as part of the National Libraries Week celebrations.

Joseph says that libraries have formed a "vital part" of his life, which spurred him on to join a library in every local authority in the UK in an attempt to encourage more people to visit these magical places.

To date, Joseph has joined 204 libraries - and by the end of this week, the number will have reached 213.

"I have visited libraries in every library authority in the UK: from large Carnegie libraries to tiny libraries in converted one-bedroom flats, on buses and even bikes," said Joseph.

"The dedication and passion of librarians has been inspiring – not only offering book recommendations, but also safe havens for people to be warm, to feel less socially isolated, to learn new skills or simply to weigh their newborn babies.

"Libraries have always played a vital part of my life, and so it has been wonderful to see librarians use my visits as an opportunity to get new people to sign up. I hope that the Library Marathon has encouraged many new members into the library and reminded many existing members of all the wonderful work these essential spaces carry out."

Bringing the marathon to a close

Waterstones Children's Laureate Joseph Coelho

This week, Joseph will visit libraries in Bury, Warrington, St Helens, Knowsley, Sefton, the Isle of Man, The Wirral, and Liverpool to bring his journey to an end.

At each visit, he will register for a library card, borrow a book, and read to and perform for school children visiting the library.

For the last event on Saturday 7 October, Joseph will cycle on his trademark homemade bamboo bike into the courtyard of the British Library, where he will register for his final library card and kick off a spectacular day of books and reading.

The British Library Family Day special – called 'Book Adventurers' and curated in collaboration with BookTrust and Joseph Coelho – is free and welcomes children of every age and stage.

It will feature workshops, storytelling and talks courtesy of an exciting line-up of writers, illustrators, book creators, dancers, storytellers, puppeteers and artists, including much-loved author and former Waterstones Children's Laureate, Michael Rosen.

"Joseph's Library Marathon has been a heroic effort and a fabulous way to highlight the crucial role that libraries play in giving children access to a wide range of books and engaging them with reading through activities and events," said Diana Gerald, Chief Executive at BookTrust.

"This matters because we know from research that children who read regularly and who enjoy reading are happier and do better at school than those who do not. They are more creative and empathetic and go on to do better in life.

"In these times when money is tight, families need their local libraries more than ever to help make sure that their children get the very best out of life."

Find out more about the British Library Book Adventurers Family Day

Find out more about Waterstones Children's Laureate Joseph Coelho

Waterstones Children's Laureate: Joseph Coelho

Poet Joseph Coelho is the Waterstones Children's Laureate for 2022-24.

The role of Children's Laureate is awarded once every two years to an eminent writer or illustrator of children's books to celebrate outstanding achievement in their field. Find out what Joseph's been up to.

Find out more