Reading for pleasure is a globally recognised indicator in a huge range of social issues from poverty to mental health, yet in England alone, 36% of people don’t regularly read (DCMS, 2015).
World Book Night brings together a powerful collaboration of national partners – publishers, printers, libraries, booksellers, private donors, trusts and foundations – to inspire more people to read. Volunteers within organisations, businesses and communities share their love of reading by giving out books to people who don’t read for pleasure or own books. Events up and down the country celebrate the difference that reading makes to people’s lives.
World Book Night is celebrated on 23 April and run by The Reading Agency.
Because everything changes when we read.
World Book Night was first celebrated in the UK and Ireland in 2011 on 5 March. In 2012 it was moved to 23 April, the UNESCO International Day of the Book and, probably, the birth and death date of William Shakespeare.
World Book Night was conceived of by Jamie Byng, MD of Canongate. It came out of a round table discussion at the Book Industry Conference in May 2010, the purpose of which was, quite simply, to imagine a way to encourage more adults to read. The chair of the discussion was Julia Kingsford, who went on to be World Book Night’s Chief Executive for two years, and one of the participants was Ursula Mackenzie, Little, Brown CEO, who became a trustee.
The name took its lead from the well-established and successful children’s reading celebration in UK and Ireland called World Book Day. So as day is for children, then night is for adults and night is also when we traditionally think about celebrations.
In 2012 and 2013 World Book Night was celebrated in the USA as well as the UK and Ireland and almost 50,000 people gave a million books away in three different countries.
In late 2013 World Book Night became part of The Reading Agency and is now run as one of the charity’s programmes as part of its work to inspire people to share reading and celebrate the difference it makes to our lives.
2017 will be the seventh World Book Night celebration.