Costa Coffee, the Nation's Favourite Coffee shop*, is partnering with leading charity The Reading Agency to share the joy of reading this Christmas, by gifting 100,000 books to some of the families and communities hit hardest by the pandemic this year.
50,000 book-and-coffee care packages - containing one adult book, one children's book, and a range of festive Costa Coffee treats - will be distributed to food banks, community hubs, hospitals and care homes across the UK, in time for Christmas Eve. The books in each care package have been selected from the works of six bestselling authors connected to the Costa Book Awards, including Malorie Blackman, Candice Carty-Williams and Michael Morpurgo.
The Costa Coffee Gift-A-Book campaign is inspired by Jolabokaflod, the Icelandic tradition of exchanging books with loved ones on Christmas Eve. Loosely translated, Jolabokaflod means 'Christmas Book Flood': it is a Christmas Eve tradition dating back to World War Two, where Icelanders give and receive books and read them through the night with chocolate and a hot drink.
Other high-profile names - including author and actor, Simon Callow; author and TV presenter, Konnie Huq; author and former SAS soldier, Andy McNab; writer and mathematician, Bobby Seagull, and former Children's Laureate, Jacqueline Wilson - will also lend their support to the campaign by sharing their own favourite book to gift ahead of Christmas Eve, encouraging members of the public to embrace their own Jolabokaflod tradition at home this year and share their top reading choices using #CostaGiftABook.
Michael Morpurgo, author of family favourites War Horse and Kaspar: Prince of Cats, one of the books included in the care packages, said: "Reading is a journey of discovery which set me on the path to writing. Without it, I don't know where I would be, so I believe it is absolutely vital that every person, whatever age and wherever they live, should have access to books and the doors they allow us to step through. That's why I'm thrilled with Costa Coffee's generous book donation and passionate about supporting the work of The Reading Agency."
Neil Lake, MD, Costa Coffee UK & Ireland, said: "Tradition is a big part of Christmas and, although this year will feel different for many people, we wanted to help some of those hardest-hit to create a new tradition inspired by this heart-warming custom of gifting books on Christmas Eve. As the proud sponsor of the Costa Book Awards, which is almost in its 50th year, we know the power of a great read and a perfect cup of coffee. Our teams are passionate about supporting the local communities they serve and, by gifting these care packages in partnership with The Reading Agency, we hope to give back to those communities with a comforting and joyful experience at the end of a turbulent year."
Karen Napier, CEO, The Reading Agency, added: "We are delighted to be announcing this partnership with Costa Coffee. Books connect and transport us to other worlds, but not everyone can access them: this has been especially true in 2020, which has been so challenging for so many. We have had an extraordinary response to the campaign, and we hope that it will bring some much-needed festive cheer to families and communities from Liverpool to Folkestone, from the Isle of Man to the Isle of Mull. We are working towards a world where everyone is reading their way to a better life, and initiatives like this help our work towards giving every child and adult equal access to the joy of reading."
In February 2020, Costa Coffee was voted The Nation's Favourite Coffee Shop for the 10th consecutive year by Allegra Strategies. The Costa Book Awards, one of the UK's most prestigious and popular book prizes, has been running since 1971 and will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year.
*Allegra Strategies, 2019
To find out more about the Costa Coffee Gift-A-Book campaign or to donate to The Reading Agency, please visit: www.readingagency.org.uk/giftabook
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