Yangsze Choo, Jing-Jing Lee and Markus Zusak take part in the first of a series of six national public library events celebrating the Big Jubilee Read

The Reading Agency and Libraries Connected have today announced the first three online events in their national series for the Big Jubilee Read, a reading for pleasure campaign celebrating great reads from authors across the Commonwealth to coincide with Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

Run in collaboration with six regional Libraries Connected Networks, the series will be streamed on YouTube and accompanies the Big Jubilee Read booklist, a selection of beautiful and thrilling writing produced by authors from a wide range of Commonwealth countries which help readers to engage in the discovery and celebration of great books. The event programme will explore six key themes influencing writing, including journeys and migration, multiculturalism and diversity.

In the lead-up to this year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, the series launches on 14 June at 7pm with a special event with Libraries Connected West Midlands, exploring writing from across the Commonwealth. Chaired by journalist Sarah Shaffi, authors Jing-Jing Lee (Singapore), Jacob Ross (Grenada) and Markus Zusak (Australia) will come together to discuss what the future for writing from the Commonwealth looks like and who will tell its stories. This will be followed by a second event ‘Journeys in the Commonwealth’, with Libraries Connected South West, a discussion on the creative influence of journeys and migration, hosted by Sue Williamson from Arts Council England with guests Nam Le and Kate Grenville (both Australia).

The third event in the series with Libraries Connected East of England will be hosted by poet, vlogger and presenter Leena Norms, who will be joined by authors Yangsze Choo (Malaysia), Tahmima Anam (Bangladesh) and Scholastique Mukasonga (Rwanda), and translator Melanie Mauthner for a celebration of writing by women from across the Commonwealth.

More events and dates will be announced as part of the programme in the coming weeks.

The Big Jubilee Read campaign uses the proven power of reading to unite the public around the shared stories that define our social and cultural heritage and is supported by activities in libraries and bookshops across the country. The Big Jubilee Read campaign is delivered in partnership with BBC Arts and The Reading Agency with funding from Arts Council England. It 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.

Markus Zusak, Author of The Book Thief said: “When I finished The Book Thief twenty years ago in the backwaters of Sydney, I thought it would sink without a trace. I didn’t even think it would be published in the UK, so its inclusion in the Big Jubilee Read feels like its biggest miracle of all. I can’t wait to be part of the events programme.”

Karen Napier, CEO, The Reading Agency said: “We’re thrilled to be working with our partners at Libraries Connected and BBC Arts to host this series of inspiring national events, which bring the Big Jubilee Read booklist to life through discussion and debate. We hope that these events will encourage people to explore the book list and spark a conversation about reading, which is at the heart of our shared social heritage.”

Follow the latest developments on social media:

@ReadingAgency @BBCArts @ACE_National


The Reading Agency

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