A library to inspire the young to read

2nd October 1998 at 01:00
Reading Joan Shoush's letter (TES, August 14) about the Millennium Library ("what an uninspiring, dismal collection has been foisted on us"), it is hard not to think she has little love for literature.

Her statement that there are only 20 titles out of the 250 which will be read suggests an abysmal lack of curiosity and literacy in schools which for one I do not believe.

Does she really believe that of all pupils, many of whom will go on to university, none can be inspired to read Austen, Chekhov, Dostoevsky, Greene, Hemingway, Joyce, Marquez, Orwell, Plato, Waugh, Woolf and Yeats?

She suggests schools should have been given abridged editions and in paperback format. The whole point of the Millennium Library gift is to make available to every pupil from the Butt of Lewis to Land's End a core library of complete texts in permanent form which can benefit this and future generations of pupils of the greatest works of the past three millennia.

These will be complemented with CD-Rom masterclasses including extensive live and archive images and sound of writers, academics, clips of theatre and cinema, on which we, the Millennium Commission and Anglia Television are spendingPounds 1 million. These are designed to stimulate pupils to read the classics.

But at the end of the day, it will be teachers and librarians who will inspire pupils to read more deeply outside school syllabuses or not.

Ms Shoush would appear to have thrown in the towel.

David Campbell Everyman's Library Gloucester Mansions 140a Shaftesbury Avenue London WC2

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