World Book Night 2016: Impact report reveals overwhelmingly positive effect of gifting books to 36% of UK non-reading population

On Saturday 23rd April, UNESCO International Day of the Book and Copyright Day, Shakespeare’s birthday and also the 400th anniversary of his death, 187,500 copies of 15 specially printed World Book Night titles will be given by a network of volunteer reading enthusiasts and institutions around the UK focussing on reaching the 36% of the UK population who don’t read for pleasure.  Since the inaugural World Book Night in 2011, an extraordinary group of 56,000 volunteers has been created, giving books away to over 2.25 million people.

This year’s  impact report is the first to measure the impact on recipients of the books, and reveals that the event prompts them to do more than simply read the book they receive; in many cases they go on to re-evaluate their relationship with books.  Delight at receiving a book translates into action, especially for those who were previously not frequent readers:

• 80% of recipients who said they previously never read or read less than once a month said that they have read more since World Book Night
• 85% of infrequent readers have talked to others about books more since taking part
• 47% of this group report that they have already bought more books since World Book Night, and 32% have borrowed more from the library

Many recipients said that World Book Night prompted them to re-engage with books and helped them discover new, relevant texts; this in turn gave them increased self-confidence as a reader and increased their awareness of the reading material available to them.

The thousands of passionate book lovers who have successfully applied to be World Book Night volunteers have chosen one or more of the 15 World Book Night 2015 titles to share with people in their local community. This includes thousands of institutions nationwide such as libraries, hospitals, prisons, colleges, schools and homeless shelters. Among the individual givers are a number of former recipients. 

Amanda Curries in Widnes found that the positive experience of receiving a World Book Night book at a giveaway at her son’s school made her realise the social and emotional value of reading for pleasure and encouraged her to read more. This year she has volunteered to distribute books on World Book Night.  She says:

“The warmth and the feeling of receiving a book spreads and the sense that everyone is included is overwhelming.”

Luke Jenkins in Swansea had volunteered for over a year at his local public library as part of a campaign to save it from closure.  Jenkins himself wasn’t a reader, however, feeling that a full-time job on top of his volunteering role left him with little free time which he didn’t want to spend reading “boring stories of other people’s lives”’ But one lunchtime break at the library he picked up one of the World Book Night titles, and having glanced through the first few pages, he was very surprised to find it gripping and entertaining. Jenkins went on to complete that book within a fortnight and to read a further two books in the series within the next six months.  From being a non-reader he has become an advocate of the pleasure reading can bring and is the organiser for this year’s World Book Night event at the library.  He says: 

“It was weird talking about books. I’d not previously had that experience and it was great – like watching and talking about a television series. It made me want to go on to the next book and see what it’s like”

This year’s list sees a sensational line up designed to bring reading and books into people’s lives. It covers a range of genres including crime, poetry, non-fiction, Quick Reads, historical and contemporary fiction, fantasy and memoir. Appearing on the list are bestselling favourites from the leading lights of the literary scene, including Holly Bourne’s Am I Normal Yet?, Love Poems by Carol Ann Duffy, Matt Haig’s Reasons To Stay Alive, The Rotters’ Club by Jonathan Coe, Treachery by SJ Parris and Ann Cleeves’ Too Good To Be True.:

“I’m delighted to be part of World Book Night 2016. Reading is the best possible way to foster imagination, empathy and mutual understanding, and never have those qualities been more needed than at the present time.”
— Jonathan Coe, author of The Rotters’ Club
“I’m so thrilled and proud to have my Quick Read book, A Baby at the Beach Cafe, included in the 2016 World Book Night line-up. As someone who has always turned to books for comfort, escapism, education or simply joy, it’s a great honour to know that my book will be passed on to others as part of this innovative, dynamic initiative.”
— Lucy Diamond, author A Baby at the Beach Café

As well as the World Book Night volunteers, members of the public will be encouraged to give a copy of their favourite book to someone in their community at one of the special events on 23 April in this mass celebration of books and reading.

World Book Night 2016 is focusing on reaching out to as many readers as possible from all parts of the country and thousands of public participation events through partnerships with libraries, bookshops, communities and charities, will be taking place in venues and open public spaces in celebration. This year’s star-studded World Book Night event will take place at the British Library on Saturday 23 April. A special gala evening celebrating reading and Shakespeare, the evening will kick off with a stellar panel of authors and other guests each discussing the place of books in their lives and reading from some of their favourites. Cathy Rentzenbrink, author of last year’s Sunday Times bestseller The Last Act of Love will chair the panel featuring World Book Night authors past and present, including Matt Haig, Dreda Say Mitchell, S. J. Parris, Holly Bourne and Sathnam Sanghera.
The gala evening then continues with a Late at the Library: World Book Night celebrates Shakespeare party at the British Library with special guests, performance, music and food and drink in the Entrance Hall and entry to the exhibition Shakespeare in Ten Acts, all included in the ticket price.

Next door at St Pancras International Station rail-users can begin their poetry journey on World Book Night. Forward Arts Foundation, with the kind support of station owners HS1 Ltd, will be distributing World Book Night title Carol Ann Duffy’s Love Poems as well as other poetry books to travellers on the main concourse and at The Betjeman Arms.

In addition to the events in London, regional events at public libraries will take place nationwide, including appearances from World Book Night author Ann Cleeves speaking at the South Shields Central Library as part of the Pan Macmillan Big North Run and writer and comedian Jenny Eclair, who will be appearing at Blackpool Central Library.

Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall is donating a complete set of the 2016 World Book Night titles to HMP Brixton prison library, after learning about the prison's literacy programmes during a visit in February 2016.  Her Royal Highness is a passionate supporter of reading initiatives and has supported World Book Night by donating books every year since it started in 2011.

The 15 titles for 2016 are: 
1.    A Baby at the Beach Café (Quick Read), Lucy Diamond (Pan Macmillan) 
2.    Am I Normal Yet?, Holly Bourne (Usborne) 
3.    Band of Brothers, Stephen E. Ambrose (Simon & Schuster) 
4.    I Can't Begin to Tell You, Elizabeth Buchan (Michael Joseph) 
5.    Last Bus to Coffeeville, J. Paul Henderson (No Exit Press) 
6.    Love Poems, Carol Ann Duffy (Pan Macmillan) 
7.    Now You See Me, Sharon Bolton (Transworld) 
8.    Perfect Daughter, Amanda Prowse (Head of Zeus) 
9.    Reasons to Stay Alive, Matt Haig (Canongate) 
10.    Shadow and Bone, Leigh Bardugo (Hachette Children’s) 
11.    Someone Else's Skin, Sarah Hilary (Headline) 
12.    The Rotters' Club, Jonathan Coe (Penguin General) 
13.    Too Good to be True (Quick Read), Ann Cleeves (Pan Macmillan) 
14.    Treachery, S. J. Parris (HarperCollins) 
15.    Whispering Shadows, Jan-Philipp Sendker (Birlinn) 

Get Involved: The giver application process is now closed, but you can take part in World Book Night by giving a book of your own to someone in your community, and by following us on Twitter (@worldbooknight), liking us on Facebook, or following all the news on  Full details of countrywide events will be available here.