Ahead of World Book Day 2024, author Lorraine Gregory shares with us the power of reading, of how essential the library was to her as a young reader and the importance of getting books into children's hands.

Books Change Lives

"I can still remember the exact moment words started to make sense. That euphoric high when, after months of learning to read, I could suddenly do it.

From that one moment of perfect understanding, at the tender age of five, I have never stopped reading. It is without doubt one of the great joys of my life.

Growing up, my mum took me and my brother to our local library every week and it was always one of my favourite places to go. I chose seven books every time and took part in the summer reading challenge every summer.

Because my mum was Austrian she introduced me to slightly different children’s books, like the Emil series and the Karlsson books by Astrid Lindgren but I was also a huge fan of the Mortimer and Arabel books by Joan Aiken and the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary.

My very favourite book as a child was When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr. A story so perfectly pitched for children and yet so quietly devastating as an adult - it’s a remarkable and incredible book that I recommend to everyone.

My parents were immigrants and we lived on a council estate so there was no money to buy books, without the library I would never have been able to satisfy my love of reading and my gratitude for this amazing gift is huge.

I can’t even imagine what my life would be like without reading, it has shaped me, sheltered me, saved me and made me long to be a writer in the hope that my books might one day reach children like me.

In my most recent sci fi series Interdimensional Explorers the main characters Danny, Modge and Inaaya live on a council estate and end up having incredible adventures across the multiverse. I’m hoping to show children that it doesn’t matter where you come from, it’s where you choose to go that matters and I know from personal experience that a love of reading can help you get there!

I feel so lucky that my love of reading has lasted all my life and although I often buy books now, I frequently visit my local library to supplement my reading and continue to show my love and support for these incredible institutions which unfortunately seem ever under threat of closure.

It saddens me greatly to know that many children don’t have local libraries, that many schools don’t have the budget for books let alone a well stocked library with a librarian and that overall the government is failing to provide children with the vital resources they need to succeed in life.

The fact that I overcame a deprived background and became a children’s author at all is in large part due to my becoming a highly engaged reader and that happened because of my mum and because we had a local library.

With a cost of living crisis libraries are more important than ever but there is so much joy in owing a book too, I can still remember buying my first book from a charity shop for about ten pence. It was Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl and it gave me such pleasure to know it was all mine.

Unfortunately one in five children in England do not own any books of their own but luckily there are many dedicated people trying to get books into children’s hands including the wonderful World Book Day which every year enables millions of children to get a free book and discover the joy of reading.

Reading changed my life. It could change theirs too."

The second book in Lorraine Gregory's Interdimensional Explorers Series, Alien Apolcaypse, is published in paperback on 14th March.

LoveReading exists because reading matters, and books change lives. 

If you want to support your local school library and the children in your community, consider purchasing your books through LoveReading and LoveReading4Kids. When you buy a physical book from LoveReading, 25% of the cover price will be given to a school of your choice for them to buy books, build their library stock and inspire a generation of curious and engaged new readers.