The Reading Agency and Manchester Libraries team up with CBBC for the Blue Peter Book Club Live

Blue Peter presenter, Abi, lies across an armchair in a green garden holding a book and smiling. She wears a pink t shirt, pink trainers and black dungarees.

Blue Peter, the world’s longest running kids TV show, is partnering with The Reading Agency and Manchester Libraries on an exciting new initiative called Blue Peter Book Club Live. This ambitious project aims to inspire a love of reading and creativity in primary school-aged children across Greater Manchester and throughout the UK.

Blue Peter Book Club Live will engage young readers through a multi-faceted approach involving free activities and events both in and outside of traditional reading spaces. There will be a large-scale Blue Peter Book Club Live event at Manchester Central Library on Saturday 18th  May featuring Blue Peter presenters, authors from the Book Club including Eve Ainsworth and Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho plus a book-inspired art-installation created by 10,000 local school children. Other highlights include a Blue Peter Book Club Live Badge Trail, which will take families to cultural venues across Manchester withactivities themed around the 12 Blue Peter Book Club titles.

Children will also be able to discover the Blue Peter Book Club booklist in unexpected settings as part of a series of “Book Hunt” events in Manchester parks and open spaces. Across the nation, libraries and schools will be able to participate in Blue Peter Book Club Live using activity packs and reading resources developed by The Reading Agency to create a nationwide celebration.

The Blue Peter Book Club introduces young readers to new writing and encourage a love of reading. In partnership with The Reading Agency an expert panel of librarians, booksellers and children in library sessions, chose a list of Blue Peter Book Club recommended reads from awesome authors and fantastic illustrators. Its next six titles are:

  • Greenwild: The World Behind The Door by Pari Thomson, Illustrated by Elisa Paganelli (Macmillan Children’s Books)
  • The Last Firefox by by Lee Newbery, Illustrated by Laura Catalán (Puffin, Penguin Random House Children’s)
  • The Breakfast Club Adventures: The Beast Beyond the Fence by Marcus Rashford written with Alex Falase-Koya, Illustrated by Marta Kissi (Macmillan Children’s Books, Pan Macmillan)
  • You Are History: From the Alarm Clock to the Toilet, the Amazing History of the Things You Use Every Day by Greg Jenner Illustrated by Jenny Taylor (Walker Books, 2022)
  • Major and Mynah by Karen Owen, Illustrated by Louise Forshaw (Firefly Press)
  • Bob vs The Selfie Zombies by Andy Jones, Illustrated by Robin Boyden (Piccadilly Press, Bonnier Books)
Six book jackets: Greenwild, Major and Mynah, Breakfast Club Adventures, Bob vs. The Selfie Zombies and You Are History on a blue background with heart and start sketches and the Blue Peter Book Club logo in the middle.

Blue Peter Book Club Live will have a major presence on broadcast and digital. A special episode Blue Peter Book Club Live will be shown on CBBC and iPlayer, 5pm, Friday 24th May from Media City UK with authors and local school children taking part.  Working in collaboration with BBC Arts, Blue Peter will also produce book review content, animations, digital games and more.  While to support young readers learning at home and in the classroom, the Blue Peter Book Club is supported by curriculum resources from BBC Bitesize.

Blue Peter Book Club Live will take place into Summer 2024 with a series of pop-up events at libraries and schools across the UK. More details can be found on the Library Live website.

The Blue Peter Big Read is supported with an award of £99,385 through Arts Council England’s National Lottery Project Grants programme.

We’re thrilled to harness the power of the Blue Peter brand to inspire children to read for pleasure. By meeting them in their communities through our partnership with Manchester Libraries and The Reading Agency’s nationwide reach, we aim to make reading feel fun, accessible and relevant to all kids.

Sarah Muller, Senior Head of Commissioning 7+

This initiative is a wonderful opportunity to connect families with the vital resources of their local libraries. The Blue Peter Book Club’s diverse and accessible booklist, created with The Reading Agency, ensures that all children can see themselves represented and participate.

Karen Napier MBE, CEO, The Reading Agency

We are delighted to work alongside our partners to bring such an exciting reading event to the city.  We know that reading is a joyous experience and getting young Mancunians engaged, excited and inspired by books now is really important to us as it will engender a love of reading that continues to grow throughout their lives.  And what better place to launch such a wonderful initiative as the much-loved and celebrated Manchester Central Library.

Neil Mac Innes OBE, Manchester City Council’s Head of Service, Libraries, Galleries, Culture and Youth

Enabling children and young people to enjoy creative and culture experiences is a priority for the Arts Council and The Blue Peter Book Club Live is a great opportunity for them to discover the joy of reading in their local community. I’m pleased that we are supporting the project through our National Lottery Project Grants programme to fund some exciting activities for families across Manchester and I’m really looking forward to attending the celebration event at Manchester Central Library.

Darren Henley, Chief Executive, Arts Council England

The Radio 2 Book Club is on the Zoe Ball Breakfast Show.

The Radio 2 Book Club features a wide range of titles and authors, recommending great reads from both new and much-loved writers, encouraging listeners to perhaps try out a genre they might not have read before, and share their opinions and insights on the titles and great reads they’re enjoying right now.

As well as being featured on Zoe’s show, The Radio 2 Book Club is also available as a weekly podcast on BBC Sounds with bitesize episodes of around 10-20 minutes. In the first episode, Zoe chats to some of the best fiction authors around to learn more about their latest novels, writing routines and literary loves; in the second, she speaks to a librarian to find out which books are flying off their library’s shelves at the moment; and in episode three, Zoe speaks to a Radio 2 listener book group to find out what reads they are currently enjoying. This format continues each month.

“The best escapism for me has always been to get lost in another world in a good book, where our imaginations are sparked, tested and tickled by ingenious authors on wild, winsome and often thoroughly emotional journeys. The Radio 2 Book Club has a top notch track record for recommending the best reads, and we’d love our listeners to share their thoughts and discoveries with us whether from a well-loved or exciting new author. I extend a very warm welcome to everyone to join us for The Radio 2 Book Club in its brand new home on my Breakfast Show and can’t wait to be the bookish ringmaster, bringing authors and listeners together to chat all things literary!”

Zoe Ball

All the books that are selected for the Book Club with Zoe can be found on our Reading Groups for Everyone website.

The Reading Agency, along with a panel of library staff and reading experts across the UK, help the BBC to choose the Book Club titles each month. Hundreds of the best brand-new fiction titles are submitted to us each year and are then read by our brilliant readers, who select their favourites. The best books are shared with the BBC, and they choose the final picks for the Book Club.

Find out more about the librarians, and why they love being part of the Book Club.

Big Jubilee Read

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.

Tottenham Literature Festival 2023 – Big Read

We’re delighted to be partnering once again with the Bernie Grant Arts Centre on the Tottenham Big Read, as part of the Tottenham Literature Festival 2023. The Bernie Grant Arts Centre, in partnership with The Reading Agency will be giving away 400 books, free to the local community in Tottenham.

This year’s festival opens on 13 November and sees leading Black writers, journalists and TV personalities host a range of talks, events and workshops under the theme of the Black experience through the lens of the human body. Events will look at how the physical world and how reactions to it affect the body, and whether a holistic approach to life can help us thrive physically, mentally and spiritually and live as whole selves. The festival includes film screenings, a book stall, food and a schools day with an extensive free programme as well as tickets from £5 including a day pass.

As part of the festival, The Reading Agency are supporting the Bernie Grants Arts Centre in giving away free copies of Amazing Bodies, by award-winning trans non-binary emergency doctor, CBBC’s Operation Ouch! presenter, and activist, Dr Ronx. Children can pick up a copy of the book which will be available at the Bernie Grants Arts Centre during the festival week and in participating libraries.

There will also be an activity pack available to support children’s reading of the book, full of fun reading and writing activities to test children’s understanding of the book, as well as exciting science experiments to show the content of the book in real life. The pack will be available to download digitally in advance of the festival.

Click here to buy tickets and find out more about the festival and the big read.

500 Words 2023

500 Words, the UK’s most successful writing competition run by the BBC is back! The competition is open from Tuesday 26 September to Friday 10 November 2023.

Since the competition was first launched in 2011 by Chris Evans on the Radio 2 Breakfast Show, it has received over one million stories from children throughout the UK.

This year, the two age categories will be 5-7 year-olds and 8-11 year-olds.

Children of all abilities are encouraged to use their creativity and imagination to write a story they would love to read without the pressure of having to worry about spelling, punctuation and grammar.

The brilliant 500 Word judges are back: award-winning and best-selling authors Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Francesca Simon, Charlie Higson, and former Children’s Laureate, Malorie Blackman. This year there will be a new addition to the panel, TV legend and children’s author, Sir Lenny Henry.

Prizes for the winners include books, book tokens and for their stories to be recorded and published on the BBC website. The winner stories will also be shown on a special 500 Words programme on BBC1 on World Book Day, 7 March 2024.

Find out more about 500 Words.

The Booker Prizes launch the Booker Prize Book Club

With the Booker Prize 2023 shortlist being announced this week, the Booker Prizes have launched a brand new online community for readers to discuss and find out more about the six books in contention for the world’s most influential prize for a single work of fiction, the Booker Prize Book Club.

Hosted as a Facebook group, the Book Club will be a space for readers all over the world to share their views and join discussions, to access Booker Prize exclusives, to help interview the shortlisted authors and to win a range of prizes, including tickets to the winner ceremony in November. Book Club members will also be able to access original content, including videos and reading guides, before it appears on other Booker channels, including their website.

Each week the Booker Prize Book Club will be focusing on a different book from the shortlist, and are offering Book Club members an opportunity to win a pair of tickets to the winner ceremony in London on 26 November (travel expenses and accommodation not included).

The Book Club will be a space for readers around the world to talk to one another about Booker books, where you drive the conversation!

Head over to the Booker Prize Book Club website to find out how you can join today!

The Booker Prize 2023

The shortlist of six books will be announced on Thursday 21 September at an evening event at the newly re-opened National Portrait Gallery in London. It will be livestreamed across all the Booker Prizes’ social platforms. The shortlisted authors each receive £2,500 and a specially bound edition of their book.

Find out all about the longlist here.

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

For more information, visit the Booker Prize website.

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The Booker Prizes’ Book of the Month

Each month the Booker Prizes’ Book of the Month shines a spotlight on a different work of fiction from among the 600+ titles in the Booker Library, through reading guides, extracts, opinion pieces, competitions and discussions on our social channels. We will be updating this page on our website every month. Find out more here.

Wolfson History Prize announces 2023 Shortlist

The six books shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize, the UK’s most prestigious history writing prize, were announced this morning (5 September 2023).

The Wolfson History Prize celebrates the best historical non-fiction books from the past year. Bringing new stories from history to light, and challenging readers to rethink accepted historical narratives, the topical Wolfson History Prize shortlist explores themes that are pertinent to current world events.

Spanning centuries and continents, political and personal histories, the Wolfson History Prize 2023 shortlist takes readers from the plague-ridden streets of fourteenth-century Europe to the densely populated alleyways of Dickensian London, travels to the court of eighteenth-century China and the underground resistance movements of Nazi-occupied Europe, and journeys through the history of African and Caribbean people in Britain, via the history of the book itself.

The shortlist

David Cannadine, Chair of the Wolfson History Prize judges, said:

This year’s shortlist demonstrates the enduring power of history writing to shed light on the past, and also to bring new perspectives, empathy and nuance to our understanding of the present. The six titles cover a wide range of themes, from inequality to war and occupation and the effect of previous pandemics. Each book is commended because it is beautifully crafted, grounded in meticulous research and full of fascinating stories of people and places.

Paul Ramsbottom, Chief Executive of the Wolfson Foundation said:

A common theme in this year’s shortlist is an exploration of how people and societies in the past have confronted fundamental, global issues: books with a distinct resonance for today’s challenges and preoccupations. We are delighted to share the 2023 shortlist, and celebrate books that bring new evidence, subjects and opinions alive for a wide audience.

The judges

Celebrated historians Mary Beard and Sudhir Hazareesingh joined the judging panel this year, working alongside fellow judges Richard Evans, Carole Hillenbrand, Diarmaid MacCulloch, and chair David Cannadine to narrow down the very best history writing in the UK from the past year to a shortlist of six books, from which one winner will be selected.

Shining a light on books that combine excellence in research with readability for a general audience, the Wolfson History Prize is now in its 51st year. The most valuable history writing prize in the UK, awarding a total of £75,000, the winner receives £50,000, and each of the five shortlisted authors receives £5,000.

The overall winner of the Wolfson History Prize 2023 will be revealed at a ceremony in central London on Monday 13 November 2023.

Get involved

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

What do you think of the 2023 shortlisted 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 #WolfsonHistoryPrize.

To learn more about the Wolfson History Prize head over to their website or connect on Twitter via @WolfsonHistory

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The Booker Prizes Announce ‘Original and Thrilling’ 2023 Longlist

The 2023 longlist for the Booker Prize – the world’s most influential prize for a single work of fiction – is announced today, Tuesday, 1 August 2023.

The books explore universal and topical themes: from deeply moving personal dramas to tragi-comic family sagas; from the effects of climate change to the oppression of minorities; from scientific breakthroughs to competitive sport.

The Longlist

What the judges said

The longlist of 13 books – the ‘Booker Dozen’ – has been chosen by the 2023 judging panel, which is chaired by twice-shortlisted novelist Esi Edugyan. She is joined by actor, writer and director Adjoa Andoh; poet, lecturer, editor and critic Mary Jean Chan; author and professor James Shapiro; and actor and writer Robert Webb.

Esi Edugyan, Chair of the 2023 judges, says:

‘We read 163 novels across seven months, and in that time whole worlds opened to us. We were transported to early 20th century Maine and Penang, to the vibrant streets of Lagos and the squash courts of London, to the blackest depths of the Atlantic, and into a dystopic Ireland where the terrifying loss of rights comes as a hard warning.

The list is defined by its freshness – by the irreverence of new voices, by the iconoclasm of established ones. All 13 novels cast new light on what it means to exist in our time, and they do so in original and thrilling ways. Their range is vast, both in subject and form: they shocked us, made us laugh, filled us with anguish, but above all they stayed with us. This is a list to excite, challenge, delight, a list to bring wonder. The novels are small revolutions, each seeking to energise and awaken the language. Together – whether historical or contemporary – they offer startling portraits of the current.

Gaby Wood, Chief Executive of the Booker Prize Foundation, adds:

The range of experience, expertise and sensibility among this year’s judges led them to seek novels that both advanced the form and allowed the reader to understand something about the world; books that would have impact and longevity; books that moved them – and above all, books of such excellence and subtlety that the judges looked forward to re-reading them.

It’s a pleasure to add to the Booker Library this selection of debut novels, new work from established Booker authors, and books by other writers at the peak of their practice who are new to the prize. We hope every reader finds something to love on this year’s list.

The shortlist and winner announcements

The shortlist of six books will be announced on Thursday, 21 September at an evening event at the newly re-opened National Portrait Gallery in London. It will be livestreamed across all the Booker Prizes’ social platforms. The shortlisted authors each receive £2,500 and a specially bound edition of their book.

The 2023 winner will be announced on Sunday, 26 November at an award ceremony held at Old Billingsgate. The winner receives £50,000 and a trophy designed by the late Jan Pieńkowski. In a recent public vote, the trophy was named ‘Iris’ in honour of the 1978 Booker winner Iris Murdoch.

Get involved

Have you read any of the longlisted books? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter and Instagram, or click on the title above to leave a review.

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

For more information, visit the Booker Prize website.

Want to make sure you never miss the latest reading group news? Sign up for our free monthly newsletter.

Blue Peter announce winner of Amazing Authors writing competition

Winning entry turned into an Aardman animation, narrated by Tom Fletcher, to appear in full on today’s Blue Peter and CBeebies Bedtime Story

10-year-old Phoebe from Devon has been announced as the winner of the Blue Peter Amazing Authors writing competition, run in partnership with The Reading Agency and BBC Arts.

Phoebe’s poem “There’s a Big Bad Wolf” took the top spot, winning a once-in-a-lifetime prize, as she sees her work turned into a book and a short animated film, brought to life by award-winning animation studio, Aardman, thanks to funding from Arts Council England’s National Lottery Project Grants. The score for the animation was recorded by BBC Philharmonic.

Narrated by singer and children’s author Tom Fletcher, the animation will be shown on BBC iPlayer and CBBC on this evening’s Blue Peter (Friday 21 July) as well as on CBeebies Bedtime Story.

Phoebe says: “I feel incredibly lucky to have won a competition that so many people entered. I’ve always wanted to be an author and I can’t believe that my story has been chosen to be made into a book and an animation – it’s the best prize ever!
I had an amazing time going behind the scenes at Aardman and had so much fun meeting and chatting with the people who’ve created the animation for my story, and I really enjoyed having a go at drawing on the computer.
It was so exciting meeting Tom Fletcher too, as I’m such a big fan, and hearing him read my story was so surreal! I’ve had such an amazing and magical time!”

Tom Fletcher says: “Almost 8,000 kids entered the Amazing Authors competition, so massive congratulations to everyone who entered and to Phoebe who won!
I loved reading her story ‘There’s a Big Bad Wolf’, it’s so brilliantly creative and the illustrations and animation are incredible, I can’t wait for everyone to enjoy it on Blue Peter and CBeebies Bedtime Story. There are not many 10-year-olds who can say that their story is in print in their local library. She’s an inspiration!”

Suzy Klein, Head of Arts and Classical Music TV, says: “I’m delighted that BBC Arts helped to create this exciting competition; and huge congratulations to our winner Phoebe whose story captured the imagination of all the judges. I can’t wait for audiences on Blue Peter, CBeebies Bedtime Story and BBC iPlayer to see it in its full animated glory; and for audiences on BBC Sounds to hear it, narrated by the successful children’s writer Tom Fletcher.
We’re really grateful to The Reading Agency for their support and to Arts Council England for helping make this a prize that money can’t buy. It’s been fantastic to witness the boundless imagination of the next generation of authors and I feel sure the UK’s literary future is in good hands.”

Young viewers were asked to pen a short story or poem and Phoebe’s writing stood out with her descriptive and imaginative poem about a wolf who lives at the back of her shed. The winning entry impressed the judges with the strong characters Phoebe had created, as well as with the quirky humour in her poem.

As part of the incredible prize, Phoebe went behind the scenes at Aardman to meet with director Åsa Lucander and see how characters are brought to life before receiving a printed version of her story to treasure forever. Phoebe also contributed to the sound effects in the short animated film when she voiced the sighs and gasps of the central character. She also visited the BBC Studios in Salford, the home of BBC Philharmonic to hear the soundtrack being recorded by the full orchestra.

Phoebe, who would like to be a writer when she grows up, will appear live on Blue Peter this evening (Friday 21 July).

Phoebe also becomes the proud owner of a Blue Peter competition winner’s Orange Badge, to add to her collection of blue, green and purple badges.

The Amazing Authors competition is a collaboration between BBC Studios Kids & Family, BBC Arts and The Reading Agency. Working with The Reading Agency, the competition engaged children across the country and feedback showed appreciation from grown-ups that it helped children who need extra support with creative writing.
Blue Peter is a BBC Studios Kids & Family Production for CBBC.

Blue Peter, 5pm, Friday 21 July, CBBC and BBC iPlayer.

CBeebies Bedtime Story, 6.50pm, Friday 21 July, CBeebies and BBC iPlayer.

The Reading Agency

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