Dr Alex George, Ayisha Malik, Dreda Say Mitchell and Lemn Sissay to join host Bobby Seagull for hybrid World Book Night celebration on 23 April

84,000 books will be gifted to a range of organisations across the UK and Ireland including care homes, foodbanks, homeless hostels, hospitals and refugee charities as part of the World Book Night 2022 celebrations. Now in its 11th year, World Book Night brings people from all backgrounds together for one reason – to inspire everyone to read more. The campaign, which is run by The Reading Agency charity, is celebrated each year on 23 April, the UNESCO International Day of the Book.

Organisations, public libraries and individuals will be holding events up and down the country to celebrate the difference that reading makes to their lives. This year’s official launch event will take place at 6pm on Saturday 23 April at the British Library. World Book Night author Dr Alex George (Live Well Every Day), Quick Reads authors Ayisha Malik (Sofia Khan and the Baby Blues) and Lemn Sissay (My Name is Why), and author and The Reading Agency ambassador Dreda Say Mitchell (Say Her Name) will join host Bobby Seagull for a live discussion that will be livestreamed via The British Library’s website for people to enjoy from home, and through their Living Knowledge Network, a UK-wide partnership of national and public libraries.

The event will celebrate The Stories that Shape Us, with the authors not only talking about their books, but what inspires them to tell the stories they do and the stories that have shaped their own lives. Directly after the celebration at 7pm, the #ReadingHour will take place, encouraging people across the country to curl up with a good book, get together to read with friends and family, enjoy uninterrupted reading or share their love of reading with a friend, neighbour, loved one or someone who wants to get more into books.

This year’s World Book Night list features 26 titles including, for the first time ever, The Reading Agency’s eight new Quick Reads (published 14 April), short books by bestselling authors written specifically for new and less confident readers. World Book Night’s diverse list of authors and titles ensures there is something for everyone, from avid readers looking for their next great book to people who are just discovering the joy of reading. Four of the books are available as free audiobook downloads from the World Book Night website (worldbooknight.org) so they can be enjoyed by everyone.

World Book Night 2022 Titles:

  • All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O’Donoghue (Walker Books)
  • Brown Baby by Nikesh Shukla, narrated by Himesh Patel (Pan Macmillan) Audiobook
  • Dare to Change Your Life by Lawrence Okolie (Ebury)
  • Gypsy Boy by Mikey Walsh (Hodder & Stoughton)
  • Laidlaw by William McIlvanney (Canongate)
  • Live Well Every Day by Dr Alex George (Octopus Publishing Group)
  • My Policeman by Bethan Roberts (Vintage)
  • Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam (HarperCollins Children’s)
  • Recovery by Russell Brand, narrated by Russell Brand (Pan Macmillan) Audiobook
  • Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones (Oneworld)
  • Straight Outta Crawley by Romesh Ranganathan (Transworld)
  • The Boy Between by Amanda Prowse and Josiah Hartley (Amazon Publishing)
  • The Dinner Guest by BP Walter (One More Chapter, HarperCollins)
  • The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See, narrated by a full cast (Bolinda)
  • The Upper World by Femi Fedugba (Penguin Random House Children’s)
  • Tinker Tailor Solider Spy by John le Carré, narrated by Michael Jayston (Bolinda) Audiobook
  • Transitions by Various (Jessica Kingsley Publishers)
  • Would I Lie to You? by Aliya Ali-Afzal (Head of Zeus)

Quick Reads 2022 Titles:

  • My Name Is Why (abridged) by Lemn Sissay (Canongate)
  • Sofia Kahn and the Baby Blues by Ayisha Malik (Headline)
  • The Cutting Season by MW Craven (Little, Brown)
  • The Swimmer by Graham Norton (Hodder & Stoughton)
  • The Black Mountain by Kate Mosse (Pan Macmillan)
  • Blind Spot by Paula Hawkins (Transworld)
  • Witness by Alex Wheatle (Profile)
  • The Kiss by Santa Montefiore (Simon and Schuster)

Anyone can get involved with World Book Night and the #ReadingHour, whether they do so from the comfort of their sofa, host an event with their book club or even attend the British Library event in person. Plus, this year World Book Night is partnering with Magnum to offer one lucky participant a selection of World Book Night titles for the coming year reading and a year’s supply of Magnum Ice Cream so they can enjoy a tasty treat along with some great reads.

To find out more or to get involved, visit worldbooknight.org, or buy your tickets now from the British Library.

Follow the latest developments on social media:

@WorldBookNight @ReadingAgency

#WorldBookNight #ReadingHour #ReadOn #QuickReads

The Reading Agency partners with Science Museum Group for innovation themed Summer Reading Challenge

The Reading Agency has today announced that the theme for this year’s annual Summer Reading Challenge is ‘Gadgeteers’. The Reading Agency is partnering with Science Museum Group to inspire children across the country to feed their imagination over the summer holiday, with a reading challenge focused on science and innovation.

The Summer Reading Challenge reaches over 700,000 children across the UK each year and is delivered in partnership with public libraries. The Challenge continued to reach well over half a million children across the UK in 2021 as lockdowns eased, motivating children to keep reading during a difficult time. Families shared with The Reading Agency the ways that taking part in the Summer Reading Challenge helped their children to enjoy reading more, feel more confident about reading and ‘feel better’ during a tough period. Family use of libraries also increased amongst Challenge participants, with more than 130,000 children joining the library as new members.

Since 1999, the popular Challenge has encouraged children to read for pleasure over the summer holidays reading for pleasure over the summer holidays, building reading skills and confidence and helping to prevent the ‘dip’ in reading skills while children are out of school. This year, it will launch in Northern Ireland and Scotland on 25th June followed by England and Wales on 9th July. By providing fun reading activities, the Challenge will support families and teachers by providing free-to-access recreation and learning resources – all created to keep children inspired to read. The digital Summer Reading Challenge platform will encourage children with limited physical access to the library to take part in the Challenge.

This year’s theme – ‘Gadgeteers’ – will spark children’s curiosity about the world around them. With resources and activities from the Science Museum Group, the Challenge focuses on inspiring children to see the science and innovation behind everyday objects, showing that reading and science are for everyone. The Challenge and the accompanying book collection will show that imagination can unlock endless possibilities, and the library is where this starts. Through taking part in the Challenge, with free packs from public libraries or on the children’s website, children will be able to join six fictional ‘Gadgeteers.’ The characters use their curiosity and wonder to understand the science behind a whole range of interests from fashion and technology to cooking and music.

The characters and artwork have been created by children’s writer and illustrator Julian Beresford. Over the summer term, Science Museum Group will be offering opportunities and resources for UK public libraries and primary schools to engage with the theme of this year’s Summer Reading Challenge to spark their imaginations.

Karen Napier, CEO, The Reading Agency, said: “We are really delighted to be partnering with Science Museum Group for this year’s Summer Reading Challenge. We know through our broader work with children, like our Reading Sparks reading and STEM programme, that reading and science go hand-in-hand. We are sure that the ‘Gadgeteers’ will inspire the creativity of children up and down the country to use their innovation and imagination.”

“In our 20th birthday year as a charity, we are delighted to be working once again with public libraries across the four nations. We are hugely grateful for their longstanding support of the Summer Reading Challenge and look forward to continuing to work closely in partnership with them, as well as schools, community groups and parents and carers to inspire the next generation of readers and innovators.”

Susan Raikes, Director of Learning at the Science Museum Group, said: “Reading has such an important role to play in igniting young people’s curiosity about the world around them. The Summer Reading Challenge this year provides a fantastic opportunity to reveal the science, engineering and innovation all around us. At the Science Museum Group, we are delighted that our partnership with The Reading Agency will allow us to reach more future creative thinkers and inspire them with the everyday wonders of imagination and discovery.

For more information, visit www.summerreadingchallenge.org.uk

Women’s Prize for Fiction Announces 2022 Longlist

The Women’s Prize for Fiction – the greatest international celebration of women’s creativity – today announces the 2022 longlist. Now in it’s 27th year, the Prize shines a spotlight on outstanding, ambitious original fiction written in English by women from anywhere in the world.

The longlist

The 2022 longlist features both debut and acclaimed writers, with Louise Erdrich the most prolific with 23 published novels. The books cover a range of genres and themes including belonging and identity; community and connection; the power of nature; the burden of history and intergenerational trauma; protest and personal freedom; female friendship and solidarity; music; different types of family units; and the shades of darkness and light of the human spirit. The novels also offer globe-spanning locations, from Trinidad, Cyprus and a dystopian England, to Cape Cod, Buchenwald and Vietnam.

The judges

Chair of judges and author Mary Ann Sieghart, says:

Bq. ‘Choosing just 16 novels from 175 submissions was a marathon task. After a lively and passionate discussion, my fellow judges were delighted to find that our 16 favourite novels were incredibly diverse, written by women of all ages from all over the world, covering different genres, and from publishers large and small. We are confident that this wonderful, eclectic and inspiring longlist will offer something to entrance every reader, both male and female.’

Mary Ann is joined on the judging panel by Lorraine Candy, award-winning journalist and editor; Dorothy Koomson, global bestselling novelist, journalist and podcaster; Anita Sethi, award-winning author and literary journalist; and Pandora Sykes, journalist, broadcaster and author.

The judges will narrow down this longlist of 16 books to a shortlist of six, which will be announced on Wednesday 27 April 2022. The 2022 Women’s Prize for Fiction will be awarded on Wednesday 15 June 2022 at an awards ceremony in central London. The winner will receive an anonymously endowed cheque for £30,000 and a limited edition bronze figurine known as a ‘Bessie’, created and donated by the artist Grizel Niven. More information can be found on the Women’s Prize for Fiction website here.

Get involved

Your reading group can apply to shadow the shortlist of the Prize from the 8th March. Selected groups will receive copies of one shortlisted title and will be asked to discuss and review it. Find out more and apply now.

If you work in a library or workplace and would like to promote the longlist, you can download a free digital pack from our shop.

What do you think of the 2022 longlisted titles? Which have you read and what will be added to your TBR pile? Add your comments below, or click any title above to leave a review.

Share your thoughts with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #WomensPrize.

Keep up with all the latest news on the Women’s Prize website.

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Libraries are put on the map as part of StoryTrails ‘Summer of Stories’ campaign

The Reading Agency and Libraries Connected are pleased to announce that Simon Savidge will join the StoryTrails project as the Library Liaison Manager for The Reading Agency and will launch ‘Summer of Stories,’ a national library campaign on the 1st May.

The campaign will form part of StoryTrails, a unique immersive storytelling experience where untold stories from the past are brought to life using augmented and virtual reality to reanimate public spaces in 15 towns and cities across the UK this summer. Audiences will time-travel via the wonder of these new technologies to experience untold local histories in the place where they happened. StoryTrails is part of UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, a ground-breaking UK-wide celebration of creativity in 2022.

15 library authorities across the UK and Northern Ireland will host StoryTrails as part of the summer tour and will receive an investment package of £150,000 to support with Covid recovery. The library staff will receive bespoke immersive training from the STEAM organisations partnering on the project including StoryFutures Academy.

Ahead of the live events in the summer, the participating library authorities will work with fifty of the next generation of UK creative talent that have been recruited to help develop and deliver StoryTrails . From 1st July 2022, the tour will visit Omagh, Dundee, Dumfries, Blackpool, Bradford, Sheffield, Lincoln, Wolverhampton, Swansea, Newport, Bristol, Swindon and Slough, before ending in the London Boroughs of Lambeth and Lewisham in September.

Simon Savidge, broadcaster and the book addict behind Savidge Reads, is the project’s Library Liaison Manager and hopes that the investment will support libraries to continue to think innovatively about technology and the way we can share stories with communities as they continue to welcome visitors back to branches after the disruption of Covid:

Simon Savidge said: “Libraries have been a huge part of my life since I was three when my mum took me to university with her and she would study and I would get lost in fictional worlds, so to be part of a project like this is incredible. StoryTrails not only combines history and technology in the first way of its kind, it shows that libraries are the heart of the community and an essential place, not just for books and reading which is vital, also for the future with new innovations and experiences. It is also a fun, exciting project that uses the tradition of oral storytelling in a new and exciting way whilst also showing people they belong and are a part of a place, and after the last two years fun and a sense of belonging is something I think we are all looking for.”

The package of support for libraries aims to help increase visitor numbers to libraries and bring new audiences into these public spaces, celebrating their position as centres of innovation and storytelling.

Chief Executive, Karen Napier MBE of The Reading Agency said: “We know how vital public libraries are as democratic access points to reading, storytelling and knowledge. This package of support will assist libraries in their role as centres of innovation within communities and we can’t wait to see the creative outcomes of this investment and the legacy that the project will leave behind. We are thrilled that Simon Savidge and Libraries Connected are working with The Reading Agency to shine a spotlight on our incredible libraries.”

For further details on StoryTrails visit story-trails.com and via Facebook and Instagram @StoryTrailsProject and Twitter @StoryFuturesA

Children’s writer and presenter, Konnie Huq, to host family events on science, the environment and coding at Merseyside Libraries as part of British Science Week

The Reading Agency is working with celebrated children’s writer and presenter, Konnie Huq, to deliver practical workshops in Widnes Library and Halton Lea Library in Halton, Merseyside as part of the Reading Sparks programme to build confidence in STEM subjects through reading. Facilitated by Konnie and taking place on Saturday 12 March, the workshops will be run for local families and will take place on the first weekend of British Science Week, a ten-day celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths taking place between 11-20 March 2022.

The workshops will draw on Konnie’s Cookie! Book series about a girl’s adventures into science, accessible reads featuring sketches and comic books with hands-on activities for children. Cookie! was one of the Summer Reading Challenge official booklist titles in 2020 and was very popular with children across the country.

Konnie will talk through her books, animating the workshops with quizzes, challenges, experiments and discussions around the science, the environment and coding. Children will also have the opportunity to ask Konnie questions and receive signed copies of her books.

Halton Libraries is one of 11 library services across England, the Channel Islands and Northern Ireland which delivers Reading Sparks, The Reading Agency’s project engaging children and families with science through reading. The project is funded by Arts Council England and Science and Technology Facilities Council and delivered in partnership with public libraries, the British Science Association, and NUSTEM at the University of Northumbria.

Karen Napier, CEO, The Reading Agency said: “Our brilliant Reading Sparks programme is demonstrating the role that reading can play in sparking a passion for science in young people. We are delighted that Konnie Huq is supporting the project and spreading the joy or reading and science to local families in Halton during British Science Week. As we continue our Covid recovery, it’s vital that we continue to support learning and aspiration across the country, and we’re thrilled to be working with Konnie to make that happen.”

Jane Dowden, Education Innovations Manager at the British Science Association, said: “The power that language, books and reading can have to engage children and young people is clear, and it is fantastic to see that power being used to celebrate the role of science and engineering as part of Konnie Huq’s wonderful Cookie series. With thousands of events and activities taking place across the UK, British Science Week is a perfect time to explore young people’s passion for reading AND science, which is why I’m thrilled that Konnie Huq has agreed to take part in these workshops as part of the Week.”

12 March, 10.30am, Widnes Library. Book here.

12 March, 1pm, Halton Lea Library. Book here.

Photo by Ed Miller.

The Reading Agency and BBC Arts launch national reading campaign to mark Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee

The Reading Agency and BBC Arts have today announced they are delivering the Big Jubilee Read, a reading for pleasure campaign celebrating great reads from across the Commonwealth to coincide with Her Majesty The Queen’s Jubilee.

An expert panel of librarians, booksellers and literature specialists has chosen seventy titles from a “readers’ choice” longlist with ten books for each decade of Her Majesty The Queen’s reign. The list offers brilliant, beautiful and thrilling writing produced by authors from a wide range of Commonwealth countries over the last seventy years to engage all readers in the discovery and celebration of great books. The final list of titles will be announced in April 2022.

Delivered with public libraries, reading groups, publishers, bookshops, and authors, the Big Jubilee Read campaign will use the proven power of reading to unite the public around the shared stories that define our social and cultural heritage and will be supported by events and activities in libraries and bookshops, as well as resources to unite reading groups across the country. There will be programming reflecting the Big Jubilee Read across the BBC.

The Big Jubilee Read campaign will be delivered in partnership with BBC Arts and The Reading Agency. It received funding of £185,000 from Arts Council England and is supported by Libraries Connected and the Booksellers Association. It follows on from other collaborations between The Reading Agency and the BBC, including the national Big Read survey in 2003.

Karen Napier, CEO, The Reading Agency said: “We’re delighted to mark this historic moment with a campaign celebrating the joy of reading and the power that it has to connect people across the country and among nations. We are thrilled to have libraries collaborating with us on the Big Jubilee Read to bring the booklist to life in the heart of communities and are grateful to members of the public who have put titles forward for this exciting national moment.”

Suzy Klein, Head of Arts and Classical Music TV at the BBC said: “Nineteen years on from the Big Read, the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee feels like the perfect opportunity to foreground some of the greatest writing from across the Commonwealth in our Big Jubilee Read. The list of 70 books – one for each year of Elizabeth II’s reign – is a real opportunity to discover stories from across continents and taking us through the decades, books that we might never have otherwise read, and reading authors whose work deserves a spotlight to be shone on it. It’s a really exciting way to share the love of books with readers of all ages, and to give book groups and book borrowers a plethora of great titles to try, borrow, share and discuss.”

Meryl Halls, Managing Director of the Booksellers Association, said: “We are delighted to see this wide collaboration creating a moment of celebration around the Queen’s Jubilee, and really looking forward to seeing the innovative ways in which bookshops across the UK will embrace the campaign. We will no doubt see booksellers’ customary creativity and energy with their reading communities, as they feature and celebrate this diverse range of titles over the spring and summer months leading up to the Jubilee.”

Isobel Hunter MBE, Chief Executive, Libraries Connected said: “The Big Jubilee Read showcases the best of Commonwealth writing and helps libraries to introduce readers to writers they might not have come across before. We are delighted to join publishers, booksellers and libraries to work with the BBC and The Reading Agency to help local communities to experience 70 years of fantastic writing.”

Follow the latest developments on social media:

@ReadingAgency @BBCArts @ACE_National


The Reading Agency

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