THE Children’s Laureate for the UK spoke about the importance of libraries to young people during a visit to Bradford.

Chris Riddell spoke to pupils from two Bradford primary schools yesterday when he visited City Library as part of a national tour.

The illustrator and author spent yesterday morning talking to pupils from Lister Primary School in Manningham and Woodside Academy about how he got into drawing and who inspired him growing up.

And he highlighted how important libraries were for inspiring young people.

Co-writer and illustrator of the Edge Chronicles, Mr Riddell, has won two Kate Greenaway Medals, the British librarians’ annual award for the best-illustrated children’s book.

He sketched, with his images projected on a large screen, while he spoke to pupils about his life, and how his mum first encouraged him to draw to stop him fidgeting about in church.

He said: “Opening a book is like opening a door, you can step inside and enter another world.”

As well as answering questions from the young people, he drew portraits of some of them and signed copies of his book.

When asked who his biggest influences were, he cited Alice in Wonderland illustrator John Tenniel and his former arts teacher Raymond Briggs, creator of The Snowman.

After the talk he told the Telegraph & Argus: “Through this tour we want to show that we need libraries more than ever.

“I think libraries are seen as an easy cut for councils to make when they have budget issues. But if you close a library you close down the possibilities of children finding books that inspire them.

“When busy schools have busy curriculums they don’t always allow children to read for pleasure rather than being tested, and libraries let children do this.

“Events like this are fantastic, because it means children can come into libraries where they can be surrounded by books and speak with the people who produce those books.

“I think young people get a lot out of it.

“I always want children to enjoy the entire reading experience, including drawing. It is important they take time to enjoy books for their own sake. Children who read for pleasure are more likely to become life long readers.”