A quarter of UK adults started reading more during lockdowns and have continued to, finds new survey to mark World Book Night 2022

  • 25.56% of people say they started reading more during the lockdowns and have kept this up
  • A third of respondents (33.02%) say more time to themselves would enable them to read more
  • 38.34% of respondents say reading helps them ‘feel better’ and 28.76% say they read as part of their self-care
  • 40.99% of over 55s read every day, while just 10.61% of 16-24-year-olds do
  • 11.16% of UK adults never read

The Reading Agency has found that a quarter (25.56%) of UK adults started reading more during lockdowns and have continued to as society reopens following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

Announced on World Book Night, the annual celebration of reading on 23 April, this survey from The Reading Agency demonstrates how having to stay at home encouraged many adults to find the joy in reading again.

A third (33.02%) of UK adults surveyed (Censuswide omnibus survey, 7-11 April, sample 2,008) say having more time to themselves would enable them to read more. 38.34% of respondents say reading helps them ‘feel better’ and 28.76% say they read as part of their self-care.

Older adults are reading the most with 40.99% of over-55s reading every day. 55.31% of 16-24-year-olds were found to read at least once a week with a quarter (25.88%) of the age group saying that talking about books and reading has helped them feel closer to others. 23.25% of 16-24 year olds say reading has helped them learn a new skill and 18.42% say reading has helped them start a new career or business.

World Book Night is celebrating this national shared love of reading with a live-streamed event hosted by The Reading Agency Ambassador, Bobby Seagull, and featuring 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). This will be followed by the #ReadingHour from 7-8pm, an hour for people across the country to focus on books and dedicate one hour to reading, sharing their reads and reading tips on social media.

Reading groups across the country are hosting their own events to mark the occasion and share a love of reading, while 738 organisations, including prisons, hospitals, youth centres, care homes and mental health groups will be gifting 84,000 books to help spread the joy of books to all.

Karen Napier MBE, CEO at The Reading Agency, said:
“This research shows how many people have continued to enjoy reading after picking it up during the lockdowns. It also demonstrates the enormous benefits that reading can have on our health and wellbeing, helping us to feel connected to the world and those around us. This World Book Night, our national celebration of reading, we want to inspire communities across the country to celebrate the power that books have to make us feel better. We hope people across the country will engage with our #ReadingHour at 7pm on Saturday 23 April, taking the time to enjoy a good book either on their own or with friends and family.”

Other findings revealed include:

  • 76.28% of people read at least once a month
  • 55.31% of young people read at least once a week
  • 14.39% of 16-24-year-olds say becoming a more confident reader would enable them to fit in more reading, while 23.11% say that more knowledge on books that are suitable for their reading ability would be helpful
  • People in Greater London (17.51%), Northern Ireland (17.02%) and Scotland (15.71%) have had the greatest reading rebounds, finding more time to read now after reading less during lockdowns
  • The North East is home to the most voracious readers with 35.71% of residents surveyed reading every day

To find out more or to get involved, visit worldbooknight.org

Follow the latest developments on social media:

@WorldBookNight @ReadingAgency

#WorldBookNight #ReadingHour #ReadOn #QuickReads

HarperCollins Children’s Books In Association With The Reading Agency Gift 5000 Copies Of Book Commemorating The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee To Public Libraries Across The UK And Northern Ireland

HarperCollins Children’s Books and The Reading Agency, the national charity that works with libraries to promote the power of reading to adults and children, are delighted to announce that they have joined together to give 5000 free copies of Michael Morpurgo’s There Once is a Queen to libraries across the UK and Northern Ireland. This glorious gift book beautifully illustrated by award-winning illustrator,

Michael Foreman, is published on 12 May to commemorate The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

Co-ordinated with The Reading Agency, libraries across the country will receive their books on or around publication date on the 12th May. The Reading Agency’s charitable mission is to enable everyone to read their way to a better life – irrespective of age or economic background. Reading can tackle life’s big challenges, from social mobility to mental health and The Reading Agency are determined that no-one is left behind.

Cally Poplak, Executive Publisher of Harper Collins Children’s Books and Farshore said: “‘There Once is a Queen is a book for all ages to celebrate The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, and we are delighted to partner with The Reading Agency to gift copies to libraries, so that all families have the chance to share this wonderful book – and a unique moment in history.”

Karen Napier, CEO of The Reading Agency said: “We’re thrilled to be working with Harper Collins on this gifting initiative to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. The Reading Agency’s vision is for a world where everyone is reading their way to a better life. The generous donation of Michael Morpurgo’s brilliant book by HarperCollins into libraries will help children discover the joy of reading this summer.”

Michael Morpurgo comments: “I am delighted that my publishers HarperCollins and The Reading Agency have joined together to donate our book to libraries across the country. Libraries have been and continue to be a constant in our communities, our schools, and lives. Libraries and particularly the librarians who work in them are vital for us all, but especially for those who need them most: those with least, young, and old.”

This year Her Majesty The Queen will become the first British monarch ever to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee. In the tradition of poetic tribute, Michael Morpurgo and illustrator Michael Foreman’s There Once is a Queen is a heartfelt homage to our longest reigning monarch who has been a constant and reassuring presence in a rapidly changing and often unsettling world.

The Platinum Jubilee Pageant on Sunday 5 June will feature over 6,000 people from across the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth and will take place against the backdrop of Buckingham Palace and the surrounding area. It will combine street arts, theatre, music, circus, carnival, and costume and celebrate the service of Her Majesty’s seventy- year-long reign.

This very special book begins with The Queen as a child, planting an oak tree with her father, and follows her story in a way that will bring this incredible, historic reign vividly to life for readers around the globe, big and small.

Once upon a time, there was a little girl. One day, they say, she planted a tree with her papa, an oak tree. Quite soon, the tree was higher than she was. And quite soon after that, she discovered she was a Princess. She didn’t feel like a princess. She would go and sit on the grass under the branches of her oak tree, and was always happy there, just being a girl, and not a princess at all. Princesses were in books; her life was going to be her own story.

For PR enquiries, please contact Jo-Anna Parkinson, PR Director, HarperCollins Children’s Books: [email protected]

Alexander Turton at The Reading Agency: [email protected]

The Big Jubilee Read booklist announced!

Titles from Bernardine Evaristo, Margaret Atwood, John le Carré, Marlon James, Seamus Heaney, Hilary Mantel and Andrea Levy part of the BBC and The Reading Agency’s Big Jubilee Read.

View all 70 titles through the decades on our Reading Groups for Everyone website.

BBC Arts and The Reading Agency have announced the titles for the Big Jubilee Read, a reading for pleasure campaign celebrating great reads from celebrated authors from across the Commonwealth to coincide with Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. The full list can be found here.

The seventy titles consist of ten books from each decade of Her Majesty The Queen’s reign, offering a brilliant selection of beautiful and thrilling writing produced by authors from a wide range of Commonwealth countries such as Australia, Canada, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, UK. Renowned authors Margaret Atwood, E. R. Braithwaite, Anthony Burgess, John le Carré, Bernardine Evaristo, Seamus Heaney, Kazuo Ishiguro, Marlon James, Hilary Mantel, Andrea Levy, Arundhati Roy, Salman Rushdie, Zadie Smith, Douglas Stuart, Derek Walcott, and Markus Zusak are included. The campaign enables readers to engage in the discovery and celebration of great books and shines a spotlight on lesser-known books and authors that deserve recognition.

The books were chosen by an expert panel of librarians, booksellers and literature specialists from a “readers’ choice” longlist. 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. It will be supported by events and activities in libraries and bookshops, and there are resources available for reading groups across the country, which can be found here. Additionally, there is programming reflecting the Big Jubilee Read across the BBC, including on BBC Two’s Between the Covers and BBC Radio 4’s Front Row, which hosted a special programme on Monday 18 April from Birmingham Library, presented by Samira Ahmed with guests including author Kit de Waal and the winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature, Abdulrazak Gurnah. You can catch up on the episode now on BBC Sounds. Sam Selvon’s The Lonely Londoners features on BBC iPlayer, having been broadcast on BBC Four on Sunday 10 April in an episode of The Read.

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.

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 – ten for each decade 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.”

Karen Napier, CEO, The Reading Agency said:

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with BBC to celebrate the proven power of reading at this historic moment of national celebration. The Reading Agency hugely values the support of our library partners bringing this fantastic book list to life in the heart of communities across the country this summer.”

See the list of books and discover resources for your reading group.

Follow the latest developments on social media:
@ReadingAgency @BBCArts @ACE_National
#BigJubileeRead

Reading Partners – working with publishers, prizes and partners

At The Reading Agency, our publisher partnerships have been at the heart of our mission to tackle life’s big challenges through the proven power of reading since the charity was formed in 2002. Reading Partners grew out of our shared agenda of getting more people to read more and is designed to support publishers, prizes and other partners in the commercial drive to build audiences and reach readers, with a focus on public libraries as democratic access points for reading. Through our campaigns, we offer publishers physical and digital platforms to creatively market books to reach new and engaged readers.

Reading Partners then…

Our founders, Debbie Hicks MBE, Miranda McKearney OBE and Anne Sarrag MBE, saw the potential for a national library network to build new strategic partnerships that would increase engagement with reading.

The Reading Agency was created by bringing together three development agencies which they were involved in and whose work was already having an impact on amplifying and connecting reading development in the library sector. These included Well Worth Reading, a marketing and promotions programme delivering off-the-shelf national reading promotions to public libraries with publishers and other partners and The Reading Partnership which published groundbreaking research Reading the Situation, Book reading, Buying and Borrowing Trends in Britain (The Reading Partnership/BML 2002). This proved the link between borrowing and buying and the unique role of libraries in building audiences for books. In this way, Reading Partners was born.

Our early work with publishers and stakeholders enabled us to enhance the opportunities for children, their families, young people and adults to engage with reading in order to create a society of readers.

Reading Partners now…

From these beginnings, our Reading Partners programme has grown to work with over 50 publishers on an annual basis to bring new and exciting reading content to readers. Our Reading Partners publisher subscriptions now offer more than ever with an opportunity to suggest titles for inclusion in monthly, themed booklist and pitch authors and illustrators for our virtual event programme, The Reading Agency Presents. Our events programme alone has welcomed over 14,260 live viewers since May 2021 and has provided a much-valued way for readers, particularly those who are struggling to access in-person events, to connect with books, authors and illustrators. We work with publishers, prizes and other partners to develop activity using our menu of campaign options or by taking a more bespoke approach.

Working closely and collaboratively with publishers of books for adults and children, we help to devise and deliver promotional campaigns reaching over 3,300 libraries, schools, prisons, care homes, hospitals, and community centres. These can include coordinating virtual and physical author events in libraries and schools, facilitating library displays, sharing resources, reading group-focused activity and more. We also host an annual virtual Reading Partners Roadshow. In 2021, this ran across two days with 52 authors and publishers presenting and approximately 1,496 delegates engaging.

‘I love these Children’s Roadshows! They encompass the best partnership working and highlight best practice among authors, illustrators, publishers, publicists, the publishing industry and libraries and librarians!’ Roadshow Attendee

In 2020-21, The Reading Agency reached over 1.9 million people across the UK, including more than 800,000 children and over 1 million adults and young people.

During the 2021/22 subscription year:

  • 220,030 people took part in Reading Partners activities
  • 1,729,880 people engaged with the publisher campaigns via our social media networks
  • 5,320 PoS packs were distributed to libraries and other organisations and 13,190 books were distributed via our promotional giveaways
  • 4,806 people attended author events in libraries and schools brokered by Reading Partners
  • 16,120 people attended our virtual events including the Roadshow and The Reading Agency Presents

‘We have loved working with the Reading Agency this year. We’re a really small team so their support has been invaluable. The opportunity to present to librarians has been particularly successful in organising events and raising author profiles.’ UCLan Publishing

Why is this work important?

The Reading Agency’s mission is to help everyone tackle life’s big challenges through the proven power of reading. We mean everyone – from toddlers to children to young adults, prisoners and older people – irrespective of age or economic background. Research shows that reading for pleasure can promote better health and wellbeing, aids in building social connections and relationships with others and is associated with a range of factors that help increase social mobility. Sullivan and Brown (2013) found that reading for pleasure is more important for children’s cognitive development than their parents’ level of education and is a more powerful factor in life achievement than socio-economic background. Another study found that reading significantly reduces feelings of loneliness for people aged 18-64 (Hilhorstet al., 2018).

‘The books that our group have received through the Reading Agency have really got the group going and attracted more members too. So thank you very much.’ Reading Group Leader

‘The members were all very grateful for the kind gift of the set of John Banville’s latest book, and several members felt inspired to read more of his works and took away copies of Snow as an extra read.’ Librarian

We are keen to engage with a broad range of both traditional and independent publishers in order to support The Reading Agency to deliver on its diversity and inclusion agenda.

‘Reading Friends has really helped me rediscover my love of books and the group calls have been lovely to connect with other readers and discuss books – and life in general. It is an invaluable service and I feel so lucky to have had it recommended to me.’ Reading Friend’s member taking part in a Read and Review campaign

‘It was good to give the residents something to put their focus onto with the current conditions in the world. I look forward to hearing of any other activities that will be run.’ HMP Wandsworth who took part in a Reading Partners campaign

We continually strive to reach a larger audience and we recognise the importance of listening to and collaborating with our partners and participants. Our co-creation model has been embedded into our programmes to ensure that they meet the needs of the people who will use them, while always striving to reach those who need us most.

Books for children | Books for adults.

‘Reading Partners has been invaluable in amplifying our campaigns to reach librarians and teachers across the UK. Our campaigns have always been received with enthusiasm and we’ve seen long-lasting support from those we engage beyond the immediate campaign.’ Head of Zeus

Meet the team

Kimberley Sheehan, Campaign Manager
Kimberley photo small.png
Kimberley was a primary school teacher for six years before completing a MA in Publishing and Creative Writing. She then joined The Reading Agency as part of the promotions team in 2016 and moved to the Children’s Reading Partners team a year later. She was an Events Coordinator for the London committee of the Society of Young Publishers before becoming a Co-Chair in 2019. She spends her weekends reading (unsurprisingly), baking, watching far too many crime documentaries and playing with her Dachshund, Olive.

Kathleen photo small.pngKathleen Ktorides, Campaign Officer

Kathleen joined The Reading Agency in 2006 and has worked on a number of programmes including The Summer Reading Challenge and Chatterbooks. She has been part of the Reading Partners team since 2013 and loves working on campaigns with publishers. If she could be any character from a book, she would be Lyra Belacqua from the Northern Lights trilogy. She’s feisty and brave and who wouldn’t love to spend time with a (friendly) polar bear?

Zoe Sadler, Campaign Officer
Zoe photo small.jpg
Having worked in the busy world of arts PR and marketing, Zoe joined The Reading Agency on the cusp of the first national lockdown in 2020. She devises and delivers promotional campaigns, including a virtual event with Kazuo Ishiguro and Kate Mosse for World Book Night 2021 and a nationwide short story competition with people in prison. She also leads on The Reading Agency Presents, creates the monthly booklists and provides support across The Reading Agency’s other projects, including the Teachers’ Reading Challenge and StoryTrails. An avid book club member, Zoe loves translated fiction, feminist horror and beautiful cover design.

Become a partner in 2022

Find out more about our publisher partners and the standard and enhanced subscription offer for publishers for 2022/23 here.

We are pleased to be able to offer discounted rates for small independent publishers and freelancers. You can find more information about this on page 18 of the 2022/23 subscription deck. For further information about working with us please contact [email protected].

We also work with book prizes and organisations including The Booker and International Booker Prize, The Women’s Prize for Fiction and National Poetry Day. For book prizes and other partners, a bespoke package will be created to engage the communities and groups you want to reach. You can find our prize costings here but please note these can vary depending on prize and promotion size. Contact [email protected] to discuss your campaign.

The Stories That Shape Us – World Book Night Event

This year World Book Night returns to The British Library to celebrate a night of reading. The event, hosted by Bobby Seagull, invites guests to watch a live discussion in person or online. Tickets are available now.


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 so they can be enjoyed by everyone.

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.

Buy your ticket now.

The Reading Agency

Join our mailing list

Get our newsletters to stay up to date with programme news, resources, news and more.

Back to Top