What is World Book Night?
World Book Night is a national celebration of reading and books which takes place on 23 April every year. Books are given out across the UK with a focus on reaching those who don’t read regularly within communities, and are gifted through organisations including prisons, libraries, colleges, hospitals, care homes and homeless shelters. World Book Night is run by the charity The Reading Agency, a national charity that inspires people to become confident and enthusiastic readers.
World Book Night also sees hundreds of events taking place across the UK, from small community gatherings to author readings in flagship libraries that celebrate and share reading with the aim of inspiring more people to become regular readers.
Why 23 April?
23 April is the UNESCO International Day of the Book, chosen in honour of Shakespeare and Cervantes who both died on 23 April 1616 (and it was also, probably, Shakespeare’s birthday).
Where do the books go?
We work with care homes, youth centres, colleges, prisons, public libraries, mental health groups and other charity partners to match books with new readers. These brilliant organisations help The Reading Agency to get books into the hands of adults with low literacy levels or who don’t read for pleasure, isolated and vulnerable older people, people in UK prisons, parents and vulnerable pregnant women, people with mental health needs and young people who don’t read for pleasure.
How do you choose the books?
Our books are chosen through careful discussions with publishers to establish which titles are best suited to each of our key audiences outlined above. We are committed to reaching the 1 in 3 adults who don’t regularly read for pleasure or own books. What we look for in books is simple – good, enjoyable, highly readable books with strong compelling narratives. When considering our list we also look to include books across a variety of genres: fiction and non-fiction as well as books aimed at young adults.
Our books are chosen through careful discussions with publishers to establish which titles are best suited to each of our key audiences, and we have worked closely with publishers to establish our book selection criteria.
Can I receive a selection of titles?
Due to logistical reasons, we are currently unable to offer organisations a selection of titles.
Who pays for the books?
The cost of printing and distributing the books donated by publishers are met by each book’s publisher.
People who give out their own books away on World Book Night choose and supply the books they give themselves. They can be new or second-hand and either taken from the volunteer’s shelves or bought specially.
I want a World Book Night book, how do I get one?
All books included on the World Book Night list are in-print and available to buy from retailers or borrow from public libraries.
I have a book from a previous year that says to register it online to track it. Where do I register it?
The format of World Book Night has changed over the years and we used to have special editions of all the books on the list. Each book had a unique number that allowed its journey to be tracked online. We no longer track these books, but if you have a copy please do still pass it onto someone else.
Who can take part this year?
In order to reach as many of our key audiences as possible, this year we will be distributing all of our free books solely via organisations which have a strong track record of working with/reaching people who struggle with reading or who don’t read regularly. These represent varied settings including care homes, youth centres, colleges, prisons, public libraries, mental health groups and other charity partners. Applications for 2021 will be open from 9 December 2020 until 29 January 2021.
Anybody can participate in World Book Night as a day to celebrate reading. Find out how.
I would like to participate but 80 books is too many. Can I still apply?
We encourage smaller organisations to apply to receive books even if you’re not sure if you can hand out 80 on one day. You can distribute some books to another, local organisation so they can also get involved. You can also hand out any leftover books to different people in your organisation on another day.
I work for a community library. Can I apply for books if we are independent from the local authority?
If a community library is completely independent from the local authority, you can apply to receive books, regardless of if the authority libraries are also applying.
How can I get involved at other times of the year?
There are other opportunities to get involved in reading in local communities through The Reading Agency. 95% of previous volunteers with World Book Night said they thought that being part of a national charity promoting reading in other ways was a positive thing and that they wanted to get involved in other volunteering opportunities.
For those of you who would be happy to get more people reading more at other times of the year then we would like to grow our band of volunteers and help you get involved with Reading Groups for Everyone and, in the future, our programmes that support young people and adult literacy learners.
I’ve been told my organisation will be receiving books – when will they arrive?
If you’ve heard directly from us that we’re able to supply your organisation with books, all of your delivery information will have been emailed to you. As a general rule, books will be sent in early-mid April 2021.
I’m from an organisation and can no longer take part – what do I do?
Please let us know as soon as possible by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m excited but also nervous about giving out my books; can you give me any advice?
Whether you’re from an organisation receiving our publisher-donated books, or you’re an individual giving away your own books, we’ve prepared some suggested ‘prompts’ for use when approaching new readers, which you can find here.
Which book should I give away?
You’re free to give away whichever book you choose on World Book Night, and it’s important that you can enthuse about it yourself to your chosen recipient. But turning someone on to reading is not about you, it’s about them. It’s about nudging them towards the realisation that there will always be something of relevance to their own lives that they can enjoy – whether it’s a biography of someone they admire, a novel set in the place they live or a picture book to share with their children. Think about what might spark their interest and then look for the book that they won’t be able to resist. Don’t forget to add your recommendations to our Goodreads list, too!
Do I have to give my books away on 23 April?
We ask that books are given out on or around 23 April. If there is an event taking place (whether specially organised or a public event) either in the days before or after at which you wish to give out your books, that’s fine.
What role will libraries and bookshops play?
Local libraries and bookshops are vital community reading hubs and incredibly important to World Book Night. This year libraries and bookshops will not need to act as collection points for book deliveries, but will instead be able to download a comprehensive World Book Night toolkit suggesting ways to be involved with book-gifting and events. We’ll also include booklists, images, banners and Twitter cards. This will be available on the resources section of our website in 2021.
The rules state that only one application per organisation will be accepted. Should I apply on behalf of a single library or a whole authority?
Individual libraries will be able to apply to take part, but depending on how many applications we receive overall, we will most likely only be able to accept one or two from each authority. This is to ensure a fair spread of our books across the country as well as across other types of organisations. If you’d prefer to co-ordinate as an authority and distribute afterwards across libraries, there may be more chance of success.
I want to host an event for World Book Night; do you have any tips or resources?
We would love for you to have a World Book Night event, and to share your stories of the event with us. You’ll be able to download booklists, images, banners and Twitter cards from the resources section of our website in 2021.
Do I have to have my event on 23 April?
Although ideally events would be held on the evening of World Book Night itself, we know that the event you’re planning might need to be a different time or day. As long as it is held close to 23 April, and is clearly linked to World Book Night, that’s fine with us!