JK Rowling among top 10 'literacy heroes' named by charity

Boy reading The search was launched after a survey suggested one in five children were embarrassed to be found reading.

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Harry Potter author JK Rowling is among 10 people - both famous and non-famous - to be honoured for helping to boost literacy or promote a love of reading.

The author has been named a "literacy hero" for "turning a generation of children into readers".

Others named alongside her include Happy Days star Henry Winkler, who is dyslexic and has written books about a schoolboy with learning difficulties.

Schoolchildren, a librarian and teachers are also honoured.

They are the first winners of a competition by the National Literacy Trust to find Britain's top 10 literacy heroes.

The organisers say each was picked because of the impact they have had on a community's reading and writing skills, or because they have overcome literacy problems of their own.

The other winners in the competition - launched by the Duchess of Cornwall, a patron of the charity - are:

  • Jodie Evans, an Oxfordshire pupil who overcame her own literacy issues to become a school library champion
  • Lisa Yong Hui Li, a secondary school student who judges said had made "amazing achievements" with English as her second language
  • Ruth Gasson, a librarian who has helped disadvantaged youngsters improve their literacy
  • School librarian Lyn Hopson, from Doncaster, who runs schemes to promote a love of reading among young people
  • Leeds teaching assistant Velda Jackson
  • Richard O'Neill, a Romany gypsy author and storyteller who works in schools to improve literacy among traveller pupils
  • English teacher Caroline Thain, from Aberdeen
  • An unnamed prisoner from The Mount jail who is involved with a project called Storybook Dads, where parents in prison can record themselves reading a book to their children

They were nominated by the public and chosen by a panel including authors Joanna Trollope, Cressida Cowell and Dorothy Koomson, entrepreneur Levi Roots, actor, comedian and writer Miles Jupp, and columnist Lucy Mangan.

Director of the National Literacy Trust, Jonathan Douglas, said the winners had all "made inspiring and significant strides to improve their own literacy or create positive opportunities for others".

"Literacy Heroes and reading role models have never been more important at a time when our research shows that children's reading performance is declining, children are reading less and are holding more negative attitudes towards reading," he said.

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