Booktrust is to lose all government funding for its bookgifting programmes in England from 1st April next year.
The book charity's bookgifting programmes, Bookstart, Booktime and Booked Up, received £13m from the Department for Education last year. This sum was used to generate a further £56m-worth of sponsorship from publishing partners and corporate sponsors.Booktrust chief executive Viv Bird said: "We are immensely surprised and disappointed by this decision and know that families, teachers, librarians, health visitors, our publishing partners and many others up and down the country will be sharing these feelings." She added: "We passionately believe in these programmes and the proven extraordinary transformative power of reading for pleasure. We will be consulting with our partners and exploring alternative funding opportunities to do our utmost to make sure that every child continues to be given the opportunity to develop a lifelong love of books."Bookstart is a national programme that gives a free pack of books to babies, and guidance materials to parents and carers. Booktime promotes reading aloud with children, and Booked Up aims to give a free book to every child starting secondary school in England.
Booktrust stressed that the cut applies to England only.
The former children's laureate Michael Rosen has expressed his utter dismay at the news.
The Guardian has covered it in its third leader today, 23 December.