The promotion of reading is one of the KB's areas of expertise. As the national library of the Netherlands, we wish to encourage as many people as possible to read, so that they can participate more fully in everyday society. We do this through various projects, apps, websites and collaborations that target different demographic groups. Read more about this expertise. 

How does the KB encourage reading?

How do you make reading appealing for people? What programmes are available in the area of reading promotion? The KB engages in reading promotion in several ways:

  • We make digital reading possible and easily accessible through various apps and websites. We offer services like the online Library and the Youth library. This page has more information about these services and more.
  • Together with Stichting Lezen, we develop reading promotion programmes to help children discover and enjoy reading.
  • We provide visually impaired and blind people with books, newspapers and magazines in compatible formats, such as audiobooks, braille, large print and combined formats.

Why do we work to promote reading?

Compared to other countries, adults in the Netherlands are relatively proficient and extensive readers. The KB wants to make sure that does not change. Unfortunately, international research has also shown that a quarter of Dutch 15-year-olds have poor reading skills. On top of that, 15-year-olds in the Netherlands found less enjoyment in reading than in any of the 76 other countries in the study. Almost 50 percent said that reading is a waste of time and around 60 percent only reads when obliged to.

Participating in everyday society

Being able to read well and reading regularly is important for both children and adults in the Netherlands. It makes it easier for them to participate in everyday activities and helps them to achieve more in life. Research shows that reading fiction improves people's ability to empathise with other people and places. This is also one of the reasons why it is important to challenge people to occasionally read different books from those they would normally choose.

Collaborations for reading promotion

We are members of Leescoalitie (the Reading Coalition), a group of organisations working together to get as many people as possible reading. Leescoalitie promotes reading culture in various ways: ensuring that people have less difficulty with reading and writing, encouraging the reading of literature including youth literature, and so forth.

More than 1.1 million Dutch citizens have a reading disability; of these some 250,000 are blind or partially sighted and more than 850,000 have dyslexia. The Aangepast Lezen (Adapted Reading) programme offers books, newspapers and magazines in compatible formats (audio, braille, large print and combined formats) to help people with reading disabilities inclusively take part in everyday society. We do this together with organisations such as Bibliotheekservice Passend Lezen (Compatible Reading Library Service), Dedicon and CBB.

The results

If you want to encourage people to learn to read or spend more time reading, fun is an important factor. The KB helps people get excited about reading by offering support on websites and apps, and by organising events and activities centred around subjects that a lot of people care about. The apps and websites currently reach nearly 20 per cent of the population of the Netherlands.

The online library 

More than 400,000 members of public libraries use the online library app and website to borrow e-books and audiobooks - everything from thrillers and literature to informative books and poetry. Right now, more than 35,000 e-books and 7,500 audiobooks can be borrowed in this way.

More about the online library is a website hosted by the KB that offers children and youths between age 0 and 18 years a way to find fun books (both paper and digital) and learn how to use the internet and digital services in a critical and adroit manner. The website reaches about 2.5 million children and youths every year.

More about Jeugdbibliotheek


The BoekStart programme for children aged 0 to 4 encourages parents/carers to introduce their children to books, reading and public libraries as early as possible. This is done via various channels, such as child health centres, which provide health advice and childcare services for children up to age 4. In the first 10 years of the programme, from 2010 to 2020, 650,000 babies received a BookStart case from the KB. That number grows by another 60,000 every year.

More about BoekStart 

Library at school 

With the Bibliotheek op School (Library at School) programme, the educational sector, libraries and municipalities work together to promote the enjoyment of reading and development of media skills both at school and at home. Bibliotheek op school employs people who specialise in reading and media, and the programme makes use of inspiring books and a good digital reading and learning environment.

Bibliotheek op school was developed for VMBO, MBO and PABO schools. The number of participating primary schools has increased by a factor of three since 2012, with about 50% of all primary schools participating in Bibliotheek op School.  

Stichting Lezen and the KB manage BoekStart and Bibliotheek op School on behalf of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. Public libraries implement the practical aspects of programmes in their own municipalities, collaborating with the local youth healthcare, childcare and education services.

More information for members of the press

Helen Johnson
Press officer
06 - 42 26 88 11