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 people from all backgrounds together for one reason – to inspire others to read more. Organisations and individuals hold events up and down the country to celebrate the difference that reading makes to our lives, from book themed parties at home to books swaps in offices. Organisations can volunteer to hand out books from our annual list to people who don’t read for pleasure or own books.
World Book Night is celebrated on 23 April and run by The Reading Agency.
We tackle life’s big challenges through the proven power of reading.
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.
In 2023 we are celebrating twelve years of World Book Night.