Using reading to tackle life’s big challenges: sensitive issues set to be explored on World Book Night 2019

12 December 2018: Today we announce the list of books to be given away on World Book Night, 23 April 2019. The varied titles, donated by publishers large and small including Penguin Random House, Canongate and Jessica Kingsley Publishers, include a diverse selection of commercial and literary fiction, non-fiction and young adult, each selected to inspire people who don’t regularly read to pick up a book.

This year’s list features a number of titles whose authors don’t shy away from conversations around difficult issues, including several books for young adults. Issues explored within the 2019 book list include mental health, bereavement, domestic violence and police brutality. With titles such as Turtles All the Way Down by John Green, Me Mam. Me Dad. Me. by Malcolm Duffy and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, we aim to highlight how reading can help people of all ages tackle some of life’s big challenges.

Other titles on the list include the bestselling The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, memoir Thinking Out Loud by Rio Ferdinand and Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon.

For the third year running, a targeted approach to World Book Night book distribution will see us working with public libraries, prisons, colleges, care homes, youth centres, mental health groups, charities and other organisations to get books into the hands of new readers on 23 April, when events celebrating reading will take place nationwide. Organisations can apply to take part from today via the World Book Night website.

The complete list of titles donated by publishers for World Book Night 2019:

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (Macmillan Children’s)
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (Vintage)
The Forgiveness Project by Marina Cantacuzino (Jessica Kingsley Publishers)
Rosie Loves Jack by Mel Darbon (Usborne)
Shadows in Heaven by Nadine Dorries (Head of Zeus)
Me Mam. Me Dad. Me. by Malcolm Duffy (Head of Zeus)
Thinking Out Loud by Rio Ferdinand (Hodder & Stoughton)
Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon (Headline)
Turtles All The Way Down by John Green (Penguin Random House Children’s)
The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths (Quercus)
Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby (Penguin General)
Himself by Jess Kidd (Canongate)
Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen (Usborne)
The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson (Headline)
The Children by Ann Leary (Corvus)
Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley (Allen & Unwin)
Die Last by Tony Parsons (Cornerstone)
The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley (Pan Macmillan)
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (Michael Joseph)
The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith (Transworld)
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Walker)
Artemis by Andy Weir (Ebury)
The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells (Penguin Press)

Sue Wilkinson, Chief Executive, The Reading Agency says:

“Our research shows that reading has the power to tackle life’s big challenges: it can build social mobility, combat loneliness and support our mental health and wellbeing. We are delighted to include a great range of books on our 2019 World Book Night list, which we hope will inform and inspire readers of all ages, and encourage discussion about these important issues.”

“Our aim with World Book Night has always been to reach new readers and we are delighted to be working with public libraries, prisons, colleges and many other partners – all of whom do a terrific job of getting the books into the hands of people who don’t already read.”

Jess Kidd, whose book has been donated by publisher Canongate, says:

“I am thrilled that Himself has been chosen for World Book Night 2019. This incredible project perfectly celebrates the transformative power of reading, finding new readers of all ages throughout our communities. Reading makes a difference to our communities and our own selves. That my debut novel should be part of World Book Night is one of my proudest moments.”

After World Book Night 2018, results from a follow-up survey showed the positive impact of the targeted approach to book distribution by organisations to get people reading. 97% of participating organisations rated their experience of taking part as excellent or good and 95% thought that the books donated by publishers in 2018 helped encourage people to read more often.

Samantha Higgins from Seacombe Library, a World Book Night giving institution in 2018 said:

“Anything that promotes the joy of reading and offers a free, interesting book to this community is a highly positive event. Poverty is a major problem within this community so a free event relieves the pressure and doesn’t discriminate against anyone. Reading and access to books should be available to all and this event helped to achieve that and highlight the magic and powerful benefits of reading for pleasure; survival during difficult times and self-development.”

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Gender gap in children’s reading enjoyment narrows, new ROGO research finds

  • ROGO launches best practice guide to close gender gap in reading enjoyment
  • Children’s author Cressida Cowell publishes top reading tips for kids and parents

New research from the Read On. Get On. (ROGO) coalition, which comprises 12 charities and education organisations aiming to get all children reading well by the age of 11, reveals that the gender gap in children’s reading enjoyment has narrowed by 5 percentage points since 2014.

In this time, the percentage of 11-year-old boys who enjoy reading has increased six times faster than the percentage of girls who enjoy reading (9.5% vs 1.4%). Yet girls still outperform boys in all areas of reading recognised by the coalition to be vital for children to read well at age 11: enjoyment (79.4% vs 70.4%), daily reading levels (57% vs 44.7%) and skills (89.1% vs 83.2%).

The ROGO Index 2018 also looked at how well England’s 11-year-olds are reading in 2018, and found that children’s overall enjoyment of reading (74.7%) and daily reading levels (50.5%) lag worryingly behind their reading skills (85.7%).

Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust (which holds the secretariat for the ROGO coalition), said: “The relationship between children’s enjoyment of reading, how often they read outside school and their academic attainment is critical. Despite positive trends in boys’ reading enjoyment, children’s overall levels of reading enjoyment and daily reading levels continue to lag behind their reading skills. To give children the best possible opportunities in life, we must close this gap. It’s time to put reading for enjoyment at the heart of our children’s lives.”

Analysis from the National Literacy Trust suggests that getting more children to enjoy reading could also be the key to raising daily reading levels and getting more 11-year-olds reading well: 11-year-olds who enjoy reading are three times more likely to read daily outside school than those who don’t (60.9% vs 20.1%).

To help close the gender gap in children’s reading enjoyment, and to get more children reading outside school on a daily basis, the ROGO coalition has published a best practice guide for primary schools containing a range of different activities and initiatives. The free resource is available to download from

To support the ROGO campaign, award-winning children’s author Cressida Cowell has collaborated with the National Literacy Trust to create:
* An eye-catching poster for Key Stage 1 pupils, filled with her top tips for reading and colourful illustrations by Neal Layton from their Emily Brown books
* An engaging poster for Key Stage 2 pupils, featuring Cressida’s top tips for discovering the magic of reading and her wonderful illustrations from The Wizards of Once series
* A top tips leaflet for parents containing achievable advice on how to encourage and support children’s reading at home

Cressida Cowell said: “If we want our country, our children, to thrive in the future, we would do well to heed these statistics and put the joy of reading back into the heart of education and home life. The quest to get every child reading for pleasure is not just an optional extra – it’s an imperative.”

Get involved

For more information and to download your free ROGO best practice guide, posters for children and top tips for parents, visit our resources page

The Reading Agency

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