Reading connects a nation in self-isolation

30 March 2020

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World Book Night 2020 – the national campaign will go ahead next month

The Reading Agency asks everyone to join in this digital celebration of books on World Book Night – Thursday 23 April

  • Virtual parties, digital activities, author broadcasts, and #ReadingHour
  • Free audiobooks to download
  • Booklist curated with publishers provides reading suggestions
  • Postponed: Book giveaway of 50,000 books through 370 organisations including charities, prisons, care homes, football clubs to take place later in the year

The Reading Agency has announced that the UK’s World Book Night celebrations, to be held on Thursday 23rd April 2020, will be digital as plans are modified due to Covid-19.

For the annual celebration of reading, The Reading Agency is encouraging the nation to share in the pleasure of enjoying a book – in print, in e or in audio. As part of the celebrations, The Reading Agency is holding a Reading Hour, inviting everyone to take time out to read with family, enjoy a chapter by themselves or talk about books with others using the hashtag #ReadingHour online. In addition, World Book Night is encouraging readers to share a book on the day, recommending or sending a book to a friend. With 1 in 6 people in the England having low literacy levels, readers are encouraged to pass on a book to someone who would benefit from the proven power of reading.

Online activity will also see authors from the booklist live broadcasting throughout the day on social media, and a toolkit will provide the public with ideas on how they can celebrate and share the joy of reading without leaving their homes.

This year’s list of books features How to Be a Footballer by Peter Crouch, North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, Double Crossed by Brian Wood, Diversify by June Sarpong, The Salt Path by Raynor Winn, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and many more.

As well as print books, this year for the first time 5,000 free audiobooks will be given away to members of the public, as The Reading Agency seeks to make reading available to the widest possible audience. Anyone can apply online to receive a free audiobook by Thursday 9th April, and recipients will be chosen at random and sent a single-use download code on World Book Night.

World Book Night has again teamed up with publishers to give away over 50,000 books in all formats. However, this year, following government advice, the print books will not be distributed on 23rd April, but will get to the 370 selected organisations later in the year.

Organisations chosen to giveaway books include prisons, hospitals, youth centres, care homes and mental health groups. All organisations have been selected by The Reading Agency to give away books and spread the joy of reading to those who don’t regularly read for pleasure or have access to books. Successful organisations include York City Football Club which plans to give books away at a home game, The Disability Foundation, Rethink Mental Illness, The Salvation Army, and more. World Book Night aims to support everyone in finding more time to read, as reading is proven to improve mental health, self-esteem, empathy, concentration, sleeping patterns and more (source: The Reading Agency).

Debbie Hicks, The Reading Agency, said:
“Books have the power to change lives and connect us up in these difficult times. World Book Night will, with the generous support of publishers and other partners, be a key moment to come together to celebrate this power and inspire people across the UK and Ireland to enjoy reading. With the current situation with Covid-19, our plans to distribute books have altered, however we have lots of exciting things being planned to get everyone involved in the celebration at home and online.”

Raynor Winn, author of The Salt Path, said:
“When I was a little girl reading by torchlight under the bedcovers, I couldn’t possibly have imagined how books would change my life. So to have The Salt Path chosen for World Book Night is quite magical, I’m very proud to add my written words to the millions of others tonight and watch their transformative power change more lives.”

Sophia Thakur, author of Somebody Give This Heart a Pen, said:
“Our own world can be so many things in a day. From perfect to terrifying to undeniably impossible to understand. Escaping that, to tuck your mind into other worlds is a luxury everyone deserves. And sometimes. If we’re lucky, we can pull some more sense back into ours. I’m so excited that Somebody Give This Heart a Pen has been chosen to tell its stories on World Book Night. I hope it can encourage people to own down their own hearts.”

Follow the latest developments on social media: @WorldBookNight / @ReadingAgency
#WorldBookNight / #ReadingHour

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