This year’s World Book Night, set to go ahead on Thursday 23 April, will offer new digital activities, broadcasts, and free audiobook downloads to help readers celebrate whilst remaining in isolation
World Book Night is an annual celebration of reading and books. Designed to highlight the power of reading, and the real difference it can make to people’s lives, World Book Night brings together people across the nation –from all different backgrounds – to inspire others to read more. Just as we have World Book Day to help children celebrate all things book-related, World Book Night is here to help rekindle adults' love of reading, and to inspire those who do not frequently read to get involved.
Typically celebrated with book-themed parties, late night read-a-thons, book giveaways, and even colourful dressing up, as World Book Night enters its 10th year, due to the current crisis many of the usual celebratory activities have taken on a digital twist.
World Book Night 2020
The Reading Agency, the charity behind World Book Night, has announced a shift towards digital for this years' celebrations. Virtual parties, author broadcasts, free audiobook downloads, a new #ReadingHour, and curated publisher booklists will all be available to help readers get involved from their own homes.
Plans to donated more than 50,000 books to over 370 organisations including charities, care homes, prisons, and football clubs have temporarily been postponed – but are expected to take place later this year.
Those looking to celebrate are being encourage to join in with this year's #ReadingHour by taking time out to read with your family, enjoy a chapter or two by yourself, or to talk about books with others using the hashtag on social media. People are also being encouraged to share one book recommendation with friends or loved ones, and to join in with the celebrations – whether that’s by reading an eBook, listening to an audiobook, or picking up a physical book.
Planned online activities will see authors from the World Book Night booklist broadcasting live throughout the day on social media. This year’s books include Bedtime Stories for Stressed Out Adults by Lucy Mangan; The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, The Salt Path by Raynor Winn; How to be a Footballer by Peter Crouch, and many more.
Over 5,000 audiobooks will also be given away to members of the public on World Book Night. Later this year, over 50,000 books across formats will be given away to pistons, care homes, mental health groups, hospitals, and youth centres, to help provide access to books and spread the joy of reading to those who may not typically be able to gain access. Amongst the charities and organisations set to receive books later this year includes Rethink Mental Illness, The Disability Foundation, and The Salvation Army.
Debbie Hicks, from The Reading Agency commented: “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.”
Author Raynor Winn went on to say, “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.”
The benefits of reading
Reading has many proven benefits, including improving mental health, empathy, concentration, self-esteem, and even our ability to sleep. Yet according to the National Literacy Trust, one four adults in Scotland, one in five adults in Northern Ireland, and one in six adults in England have very poor literacy skills, which can act as a serious roadblock towards experiencing the many benefits of reading.
According to a 2018 report, reading could help to halt the spreading loneliness epidemic, which revealed an overwhelming 88% of those who took part in groups or one-to-one sharing of stories appreciated the increased social contact from reading and inspired conversations. Earlier research found reading groups benefited young mothers, helping to foster conversations, whilst 95% of those who are blind or partially sighted reported that being read to once a week helped alleviate feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Physically reading isn’t the only way to experience the benefits of books. Audiobooks can help you to feel calmer and more confident. They can also help distract from negative thoughts, and help us to relax and get a better night’s sleep. No matter how you choose to read, just 30 minutes of reading each week can help you to feel 20% more satisfied with life – and that sounds like something we could all do with right now.