01 March 2007

Reverse Book Club

World Book DayBooks transform lives.
Access to information empowers individuals and communities.

Every schoolchild in Britain will today receive a £1 book token to mark World Book Day. Yet there are millions of people around the world who do not have the opportunity to buy a book, read a book, or even to learn to read a book.

That's why I want to highlight the Reverse Book Club, whose pitch is "4 books for £5 - and you never receive a single one of them!"

In the last few days, commentators here have rehearsed the arguments for education as a means for the disadvantaged in this country to escape from poverty. But exactly the same is true for those in the developing world – except their opportunities for obtaining an education are much lower. And before you ask, "Who cares?" let me remind you of something I wrote in The Times almost four years ago:

"Every country that does not enjoy access to basic freedoms such as education and healthcare is not only a country that cannot fulfil its potential but is also a country that will become a drain on and even a potential threat to the security of the international community."
So, next time you pick up a novel for £5, buy another four for the same price. You'll never receive a single one of them, but you'll be making a world of difference.