World Book Night
Continuing our literacy series – did you know that April 23rd was World Book Night?
Monday April 23rd was World Book Night, an event which saw 20,000 passionate readers helping to inspire others to make reading part of their lives. All in all one million free books were handed out by members of the public to their communities and direct from World Book Night to public establishments such as UK prisons, hospitals, care-homes and homeless shelters.
In only its second year, the World Book Night saw a large number of people apply, all eager to help build communities of readers who will support and inspire each other. Plans for giving included locations as varied as Royal Mail depots, football grounds, factories, churches, canal boats and martial arts centres.
What is World Book Night?
The first World Book Night took place in 2011 and was the largest reading event ever staged, culminating in a major celebratory event at Trafalgar Square attended by authors and celebrities.
Volunteers apply to be a World Book Night giver and if chosen are sent a number of books of their chosen title to distribute within their community. This year there were 25 titles to choose from including classics such as Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Other titles included The Take by Martina Cole, Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson and Misery by Stephen King.
Each book has a unique identifying number which readers register on line. This enables the book’s journey to be tracked as it is passed from reader to reader.
April 23 has been chosen for World Book Night as it is a symbolic date for world literature. It’s both the birth and death day of Shakespeare, as well as the death day of Cervantes, the great Spanish novelist. In honour of William Shakespeare, a selection of Shakespeare’s Sonnets are featured in the back of all World Book Night (WBN) titles providing accessible and instant readings. Carefully selected by poet and editor Don Paterson, the chosen sonnets are themed as much as possible around each individual WBN title.
This year, World Book Night has placed particular emphasis on social responsibility; getting books to some of the hardest to reach potential readers, particularly within UK prisons, hospitals, care-homes and homeless shelters. 520,000 books were distributed directly to these hard to reach potential readers.
World Book Night Givers
A large number of givers are already volunteers or representatives of a huge range of fantastic charitable causes, from soup kitchens for the homeless to fathers’ playgroups, and from youth clubs to adult learning centres. Much of their giving revolved around activity within these areas, in an effort to improve peoples’ lives by introducing them to books.
Interestingly, givers have also recognised a need for books not just for community members themselves, but also those who service them. Out of the people applying to give books out in hospitals for example, many intend to give them to the nurses or doctors themselves, recognising that a demanding job offers little in the way of leisure, and that we can all benefit from a little escapism. Givers also identified their local fire-fighters and police officers as potential recipients of the books.
A huge number of givers had plans within schools – not just giving to pupils but also to parents, teachers and support staff. One giver intended to distribute hers at a ‘Parent Gym’ which she runs to help parents from disadvantaged backgrounds to hone their parenting skills.
Events across the Country
In addition to the books given away, World Book Night saw tens of thousands of people getting involved in hundreds of free, public reading events taking place across the UK in libraries, bookshops, art centres and open public spaces.
The World Book Night flagship event was held at London’s Southbank Centre and screened for everyone to see via big screens in art venues and libraries around the country and on the World Book Night website. Mark Billingham, Meg Rosoff, Iain M Banks, Andrea Levy, Martina Cole, Mark Haddon, David Nicholls, Jon Ronson, Elif Shafak, Lemn Sissay and the Hip Hop Shakespeare Company all took part in the event. For the first time World Book Night readings by candlelight took place up and down the country.
Key library events included: World Book Night author Maggie O’Farrell at Edinburgh Central Library; the unveiling of a statue of one of Shakespeare's characters outside the Theatre Royal Newcastle, followed by a 'meet the author’ session with Adele Parks and Patrick Gale at the Birmingham Library Theatre.
In a London Tri-borough World Book Night Celebration, World Book Night author Sophie Kinsella was on board a routemaster bus, kindly donated by First and Transport for London, which travelled the Number 9 route taking in visits to Hammersmith Library, Kensington Central Library and Paddington Library.
Key events organised by Waterstones included a book signings with a number of authors including bestselling novelist Marina Lewycka at Waterstones Doncaster; local historians David Rose & Martin Giles at Waterstones Guildford and local authors Adam Creed, Paul Farley, Kevin Sampson and Helen Walsh at Waterstones Liverpool.
Waterstones Sheffield Orchard hosted an evening of Shakespearean themed music and theatre whilst night quizzes were held at a number of stores including Waterstones Leicester Highcross, Carlisle, Wilmslow, Kings Lynn Norfolk, Huddersfield and Sutton Coldfield.
All World Book Night events were coordinated in association with The Reading Agency, Waterstones and the Booksellers Association.
Most of the event took place on Monday 23 April but some are happening over the next few days. Have a look at The World Book Night website at www.worldbooknight.org to see the latest details for these upcoming events.
Did any of our dadzclub members take part in World Book Night 2012? What do you think of this scheme? Let us know by leaving a comment below.