Schools minister Nick Gibb has said today he wants every secondary school to fill their bookshelves with literary classics such as Great Expectations and Jane Eyre.

Mr Gibb said he wants all pupils to have access to literary classics that “inspire a lifelong love of reading” and has challenged book publishers to make 100 classic books available at low costs to schools.

Former schools minister David Laws warned last year of politicians meddling in school curriculum, saying the “whims of here-today, gone-tomorrow politicians” should not decide which books pupils study.

But, speaking at the Publishers’ Association Conference today, Mr Gibb said: “Access to these wonderful novels shouldn’t be the preserve of the few.

“I want every secondary school to have a stock of classics such as Great Expectations, Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre so that whole classes across the country can enjoy them together.”

Publisher Penguin has since suggested 100 books it could offer for low prices and Scholastic has offered to give schools 26 books for as little as £1.50 each, the Department for Education has said.

Mr Gibb also called for an end to the “anti-textbook ethos” in English schools, and said great strides have been made to improve the quality of textbooks.

Schools Week reported today new guidelines for good textbooks were to be published. They covered seven subjects and included guidance such as including high-quality colour photographs and not teaching pupils just to pass tests.