How we can help you stay connected during Covid-19 isolation

The Reading Agency’s mission is to tackle life’s big challenges through the proven power of reading. Our vision is for a world where everyone is reading their way to a better life. Reading to your child, your loved one, your parent over the phone, on video call or spending time reading by yourself can provide much-needed respite from looking at the news. Sometimes even a bit of time escaping from reality might be helpful, especially in dealing with anxiety and concern. As we all go further into this period of isolation and lockdown, books and reading and the online community they foster will have an increasingly important role in maintaining a semblance of normality.

The Reading Agency staff have collaborated on a toolkit containing our programmes’ digital resources as well as ideas on how to stay connected at this time with tips on looking after yourself and signposting to other organisations that may be of interest.

If you are looking right now for ways to keep your children engaged at home, we have a STREAM booklist available to download.

Keep an eye on Chatterbooks over the next couple of weeks as publishers will be sharing digital resources.

World Book Night is on 23 April, and we are hoping even more people across the country will get involved with lots of new twists and additions during our climate of social distancing. Please do share the date, invite others to virtually join you and get thinking how you might join in and stay tuned to our social media channels for upcoming information.

We are currently working behind the scenes on The Reading Agency Hub where we will have all programme resources in one place for you to easily access. For the moment though please take a look at our toolkit and our programmes’ microsites which are offering advice and guidance for participants and partners of their programmes.

Photo © Dale Cherry 2017 for The Reading Agency, with thanks to Newham Council and Calverton Primary School

Get involved

Find out more about how we are adapting to Covid-19.

Jojo Moyes urges government, publishers to “take Quick Reads forward”

The following is an excerpt taken from Jojo Moyes’s speech at the launch of Quick Reads 2020 at Waterstones, Piccadilly, on 20 February. It has been edited for web use.

Last year I was asked to give a speech at a Downing Street reception for philanthropists, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t give them what they wanted to hear from me. Because while I’m proud to be able to support this programme [Quick Reads], I don’t think it should be down to one individual to fund it.

Reading is the most basic of building blocks, for knowledge, for power, for empathy. It gives confidence. It provides a holiday from everyday life. Publishers – in a world where children’s attention is increasingly snagged by screens and computer games, adult literacy should be as much a seeding ground for you as young readers. One in six is a lot of potential book buyers.

If there is anyone here from government, you should note that countries with the highest literacy rates also report the highest per capita income. And that’s not fiction.

So while I want to congratulate everyone here for supporting Quick Reads, I would also urge you to consider how you might help take this forward. This relatively low cost programme is funded for two further series, but beyond that it needs help to secure its future.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll all spread the word, encourage other writers to take part, and reinforce the popularity of these books.

Get involved

Buy Quick Reads online and support independent bookshops via Hive.

Quick Reads 2020 launched at Waterstones, Piccadilly

On 20 February, The Reading Agency launched six new Quick Reads for 2020 at Waterstones, Piccadilly. The new titles include original stories from Clare Mackintosh, Milly Johnson, A. A. Dhand and Candice Carty-Williams; a short story collection featuring ten best-selling authors such as Ian Rankin, Adele Parks and Jojo Moyes and an adapted version of Adam Kay’s bestseller This Is Going To Hurt.

The official launch party included speeches from Karen Napier, CEO of The Reading Agency and Jojo Moyes, who is also a trustee at The Reading Agency. In 2017 Moyes stepped in to save the Quick Reads programme from closing due to lack of funding. She provided three years of funding and used her speech to reach out to authors to get involved and to call on the government to recognise Quick Reads as a vital adult reading initiative that should not be left at risk of closure again. Read her full speech here.

Thank you to all who came and celebrated with us in person, to all those who have been creating beautiful displays in public libraries, and to everyone reading and sharing the books.

Get involved

Order Quick Reads online and support independent bookshops via Hive.

What does taking part in a reading group mean to you?

What does taking part in a reading group mean to you? Share your reading group story today and be entered to win a luxury book hamper!

At The Reading Agency, we’re really keen to find out about all the great UK-wide reading group activity taking place, and we need your help.

If you are involved with a reading group for adults or young people (aged 13 and over), please help us out by completing a short survey and sharing your experiences of taking part in a reading group. Your views will shape the future of Reading Groups for Everyone so we can continue to provide useful support and exciting offers.

At the end of the survey, you can choose to be entered into a prize draw to win a luxury hamper full of book goodies for your reading group (prize offer valid UK only). You can fill in the survey until 17 April 2020. It should take 5-10 minutes to complete.

Fill in the survey now


The Reading Agency are paying close attention to COVID-19, government guidance and ongoing developments. Within our own organisation we are developing contingency plans should the current crisis worsen and the government indicate that it will escalate its response which may involve more of the public self-isolating. The wellbeing of our beneficiaries or if you are part of a partner organisation, your staff and volunteers is central to our purpose and our top priority as we join companies around the world responding to the current global health challenge.

If you are a partner of one of our programmes and would like to discuss any upcoming events, necessary alterations to your current offer etc. please do contact the specific programme coordinator or email [email protected]. If you are a volunteer please contact the organiser e.g. the library directly.

If you need more information about current guidance, please see the below link but also please pay attention to any future developments or advice

Stay connected!

If you’re having to self-isolate or are social distancing, if you have to stop delivery of activities or if someone you’ve been working with (i.e. care home/sheltered accommodation) is in a lockdown situation, we’re encouraging everyone to stay connected where possible, even if this can’t be in person. We appreciate this is a difficult time for everyone, but maybe you or your volunteers could consider doing any of the following to minimise would be participants from feeling isolated:

  • Arrange a telephone call or Skype to keep in touch.
  • Send a letter, poem, story, postcard, drawing, book recommendation, video clip to volunteers and/or participants.
  • Send our recent spring-themed resource pack which has activities and readings for volunteers and/or participants. You can find these in our resource section of The Reading Agency website.
  • Check out our booklists that are published on our website and our social channels – you can sign up now to receive a free audiobook on World Book Night and many of the booklist suggestions can be found online as e-books or ordered at online retailers including Amazon and Hive.

Stay connected on socials @readingagency on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

Please let us know if you have any ideas or activities you’re planning to help keep in touch so we can share.

Mental health takes centre stage on World Book Day/Llwyfan i iechyd meddwl ar Ddiwrnod y Llyfr

How can books benefit our mental health? That’s the topic of conversation at this year’s annual World Book Day event organised by the Books Council of Wales.

At Venue Cymru in Llandudno on Thursday 5 March 2020, a panel of six experts will discuss the benefits of ‘bibliotherapy’ where self-help books are used to support mental health and wellbeing.

A wide range of books is available as part of the Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme, which provides helpful reading to support health and wellbeing on a variety of topics including mental health and dementia.

The scheme is delivered by The Reading Agency in partnership with public libraries across Wales and England, with the Books Council of Wales ensuring that a selection of the books is available in the Welsh language as well as in English.

The Reading Well Books on Prescription for mental health scheme provides useful information and support for managing common mental health conditions or dealing with difficult feelings and experiences.

Some of the books also include personal stories from people who live with or care for someone with mental health needs.

Book reviewer and editor Bethan Mair will chair the discussion panel for World Book Day.

“Books are my world,” said Bethan, “but my life has also been blighted by periods of depression and anxiety. It isn’t always easy to talk about these things, even more so when you’re used to wearing a ‘nothing-wrong-here’ mask in public. But knowing you’re not alone, and that other people have come through the experience, can be a huge comfort.

“Self-healing is an important element in all mental health treatments,” she added, “yet we must have a helping hand to heal – and a book can always be at hand. The Reading Well Books on Prescription books come in all shapes and sizes, for all kinds of situations, and this pioneering provision in Welsh can only be a force for good. I’m looking forward very much to chairing a lively, informative and revealing discussion on an issue which touches so many lives.”

Other panel members include:

  • Manon Elin James – a founding member of the website which provides support and information on mental health disorders through the medium of Welsh.
  • Bethan Hughes – Principal Librarian at Denbighshire Libraries who leads on the well-being agenda and the Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme across Wales.
  • Sharon Marie Jones – a children’s author who has written extensively about her grief and mental health following the death of her five-year-old son in a car accident in 2016.
  • Dr Harri Pritchard – an experienced GP and a regular contributor to the media on medical issues.
  • Angharad Tomos – an award-winning writer who has written about her severe postnatal depression.

Chief Executive of the Books Council of Wales, Helgard Krause, said: “World Book Day is an opportunity to celebrate the written word and to reflect on how reading can be good for us on so many levels. At a time of increasing debate around mental health problems, we are proud to be working with The Reading Agency and Welsh Government to promote the Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme in Wales. All of the self-help books in this scheme have been endorsed by health experts and it is vitally important to ensure that this high-quality material is also available in Welsh.”

Debbie Hicks MBE, Creative Director at The Reading Agency, said: “One in four of us will face a mental health issue at some point in our lives. This World Book Day, we are delighted to be showcasing the proven power of reading to help people understand and manage their mental health and wellbeing. We are proud to work with the Books Council of Wales and public libraries to deliver Reading Well Books on Prescription in Wales, enabling the scheme to reach even more people in Welsh and English.”

The World Book Day event will open with a reception at 6pm at Venue Cymru in Llandudno on Thursday 5 March 2020, followed by the discussion at 6.30pm.

All titles in the Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme are available to borrow from public libraries throughout Wales. They can also be recommended by health and social care professionals to support treatment.


Books Council of Wales:

Reading Well:

The Reading Agency:


Ydy llyfrau yn gallu helpu i leddfu problemau iechyd meddwl? Dyna’r cwestiwn a gaiff sylw eleni yn nigwyddiad blynyddol Diwrnod y Llyfr sy’n cael ei drefnu gan Gyngor Llyfrau Cymru.

Yn Venue Cymru yn Llandudno ddydd Iau 5 Mawrth 2020, bydd panel o chwech arbenigwr yn trafod manteision ‘bibliotherapi’ lle caiff llyfrau hunangymorth eu defnyddio i gefnogi iechyd meddwl a lles.

Mae ystod eang o lyfrau i’w cael fel rhan o gynllun Darllen yn Well – Llyfrau ar Bresgripsiwn, sy’n cyhoeddi cyfresi o lyfrau defnyddiol yn cefnogi iechyd a lles ar amrywiaeth o bynciau gan gynnwys iechyd meddwl a dementia.

Asiantaeth The Reading Agency sy’n gyfrifol am y cynllun ar draws Prydain mewn partneriaeth â llyfrgelloedd cyhoeddus ar draws Cymru a Lloegr, gyda Chyngor Llyfrau Cymru’n sicrhau bod detholiad o’r llyfrau ar gael yn Gymraeg yn ogystal â’r Saesneg.

Mae’r cynllun Darllen yn Well – Llyfrau ar Bresgripsiwn ar gyfer iechyd meddwl yn cynnig gwybodaeth a chymorth defnyddiol ar gyfer rheoli cyflyrau iechyd meddwl cyffredin, neu ddelio â theimladau a phrofiadau anodd.

Mae rhai llyfrau hefyd yn cynnwys straeon personol gan bobl sy’n byw gyda rhywun ag anghenion iechyd meddwl neu’n gofalu amdano.

Y golygydd a’r adolygydd llyfrau Bethan Mair sy’n cadeirio’r drafodaeth banel ar Ddiwrnod y Llyfr.

“Llyfrau yw fy mywyd”, meddai Bethan “ond mae fy mywyd hefyd wedi cynnwys cyfnodau o iselder a gorbryder difrifol. Dyw hi ddim bob amser yn hawdd siarad am y pethau hyn, ac mae hynny’n fwy anodd fyth pan ydych chi wedi arfer gwisgo mwgwd ‘popeth-yn-iawn’ ar gyfer y cyhoedd. Ond mae gwybod nad ydych chi ar eich pen eich hun, a bod pobl eraill wedi dioddef fel chi, ac wedi dod drwyddi, yn gallu bod yn gysur mawr.

“Mae hunan-wella’n elfen bwysig o bob triniaeth iechyd meddwl,” ychwanegodd hi “ac eto, rhaid cael help llaw – ac mae llyfr yn gymorth hawdd ei gael ar unrhyw adeg. Mae llyfrau Darllen yn Well – Llyfrau ar Bresgripsiwn yn dod ymhob lliw a llun, ar gyfer pob math o achlysur, a dim ond daioni all ddeillio o’r ddarpariaeth arloesol hon yn Gymraeg. Rwy’n edrych ymlaen yn fawr at gadeirio trafodaeth fywiog, ddeallus a datgelol ar faes sy’n cyffwrdd â chynifer o bobl.”

Mae aelodau eraill y panel yn cynnwys:

  • Manon Elin James – un o sylfaenwyr, sef gwefan sy’n cynnig cefnogaeth a gwybodaeth am anhwylderau iechyd meddwl drwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg.
  • Bethan Hughes – Prif Lyfrgellydd Sir Ddinbych sy’n arwain ym maes lles a chynllun Darllen yn Well – Llyfrau ar Bresgripsiwn ar draws Cymru.
  • Sharon Marie Jones – awdur plant sydd wedi ysgrifennu’n helaeth am ei galar a’i hiechyd meddwl ers i’w mab pump oed gael ei ladd mewn damwain car yn 2016.
  • Dr Harri Pritchard – meddyg teulu profiadol sy’n aml yn trafod materion meddygol ar y cyfryngau.
  • Angharad Tomos – awdur arobryn sydd wedi ysgrifennu am yr iselder difrifol a ddioddefodd yn dilyn genedigaeth ei phlentyn.

Dywedodd Prif Weithredwr Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru, Helgard Krause: “Mae Diwrnod y Llyfr yn gyfle i ddathlu’r gair ysgrifenedig a sut mae darllen yn gallu bod yn llesol i ni ar sawl lefel. Mewn cyfnod o drafod cynyddol am broblemau iechyd meddwl, rydyn ni yn y Cyngor Llyfrau yn falch iawn o fod yn gweithio gyda’r Asiantaeth Ddarllen a Llywodraeth Cymru i hyrwyddo’r cynllun Darllen yn Well – Llyfrau ar Bresgripsiwn yng Nghymru. Mae pob un o’r llyfrau hunangymorth yn y cynllun hwn wedi’u cymeradwyo gan arbenigwyr iechyd ac mae sicrhau bod deunydd safonol o’r fath hefyd ar gael yn y Gymraeg yn hollbwysig.”

Dywedodd Debbie Hicks MBE, Cyfarwyddwr Creadigol The Reading Agency: “Bydd un ymhob pedwar ohonon ni yn wynebu problem iechyd meddwl rhywbryd yn ein bywydau. Ar Ddiwrnod y Llyfr, rydym wrth ein bodd yn tynnu sylw at y budd cydnabyddedig a ddaw yn sgil darllen i helpu pobl ddeall a rheoli eu lles a’u hiechyd meddwl. Rydym yn falch o weithio gyda Chyngor Llyfrau Cymru a llyfrgelloedd cyhoeddus i ddod â Darllen yn Well – Llyfrau ar Bresgripsiwn i Gymru, gan sicrhau fod y cynllun yn cyrraedd hyd yn oed mwy o bobl yn y Gymraeg a’r Saesneg.”

Bydd digwyddiad Diwrnod y Llyfr yn dechrau am 6yh gyda derbyniad yn Venue Cymru yn Llandudno nos Iau 5 Mawrth 2020, gyda’r drafodaeth banel am 6.30yh.

Mae teitlau yn y gyfres Darllen yn Well – Llyfrau ar Bresgripsiwn ar gael i’w benthyg o lyfrgelloedd cyhoeddus ar hyd a lled Cymru.

Gall gweithwyr proffesiynol ym maes iechyd neu ofal cymdeithasol hefyd argymell y llyfrau ar bresgripsiwn fel rhan o driniaeth unigolyn.

Mae manylion pellach am weithgareddau Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru i nodi Diwrnod y Llyfr i’w gweld ar ein gwefan.


Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru:

Darllen yn Well Cymru:

The Reading Agency:

The Reading Agency

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