What is World Book Night?

Or go to Why is World Book Night Important? or Testimonials


World Book Night is an annual celebration of reading and books which takes place on 23 April. It sees passionate volunteers give hundreds of thousands of books away in their communities to share their love of reading with people who, for whatever reason, don’t read for pleasure or own books. 

It is run by The Reading Agency - the charity with a mission to give everyone an equal chance to become a reader. Because everything changes when we read.

In the UK 35% of people don’t regularly read despite reading for pleasure being a globally recognised indicator in a huge range of social issues from poverty to mental health.

World Book Night is about giving books and encouraging those who have lost the love of reading – or are yet to gain it – to pick up a book and read. Line by line, paragraph by paragraph until they too have discovered the power of reading and the opportunities in life that reading can open the door to.


Getting involved and volunteering

World Book Night aims

How does World Book Night achieve this?

How is World Book Night funded?

Why April 23?


Getting involved and volunteering

In 2014 how World Book Night works is changing a little so there are now two ways to get involved as a volunteer – and we’re looking for more volunteers than ever before.

The books our volunteers gift are either provided by us as World Book Night editions of specially chosen books or, for the first time, chosen and provided by the volunteers themselves.

Volunteers do not have to pay or make a donation to take part and anyone can sign up to be a World Book Night volunteer giver.

Volunteers who wish to gift the books we provide have to say how they can reach people who don’t regularly read. Book givers who are giving their own books are still asked to sign up but don’t have to fill in a full application form.

Applications to be a volunteer opened on November 23 and, for those applying to give the World Book Night editions, closed on January 23. Community Book Giver registrations are accepted up until April 22.

The World Book Night books have been chosen by an editorial committee chaired by The Reading Agency - they are books that we think will make people fall in love with reading.

World Book Night is supported by bookshops and libraries across the country. They are vital hubs of community reading and World Book Night would be impossible without them. They are where volunteers who are giving away the World Book Night editions pick up the books they are passing to reluctant readers.

Who we are able to reach

35% of people in the UK don’t read regularly. They come from all walks of life and all over the country, but there are specific areas of society with a higher proportion of people who don’t read who we’re interested in targeting. Find out more about these areas and reading and literacy in the UK.

By enlisting thousands of passionate book lovers around the country World Book Night reaches out to these people in the hope that we can start them on their reading journey. In addition World Book Night distributes thousands of books through our institutional partners to the hardest to reach potential readers in prisons, care homes, hospitals, sheltered, supported and social housing, the homeless and through partner charities working throughout the UK.

Community Book Givers

In 2014 we want everyone who wants to celebrate World Book Night to do so and are introducing a new way to volunteer. We’re looking for people who will commit to giving at least one book on April 23 to someone who doesn’t regularly read. It can be any book you want, your favourite or a book you think will become theirs, and you can take it from your shelf or buy it specially, new or second-hand. We’ll be providing lots of tips and ideas on book choice and who you might give books to.

World Book Night Edition Givers

We’re also looking for volunteers to help us gift the specially chosen and printed World Book Night editions. In particular, we are looking for individuals or institutions who can demonstrably reach people who don’t regularly read and who are in most need of our support but are also interested in hearing from volunteers who believe they can reach anyone in their community who doesn’t regularly read. So if, that’s you, please applyby January 23.

World Book Night aims

  • To raise the profile of reading through a mass engagement project which works at a grass roots level to inspire those who don’t regularly read to do so
  • To place books into the hands of those who don’t regularly read
  • To raise the profile of reading for pleasure through a series of celebratory events
  • To improve literacy in the UK and Ireland
  • To bring communities together

How does World Book Night achieve this?

  • Getting people involved in distributing books and organising events in their communities
  • Using a grassroots approach to encouraging more people to gain the reading habit
  • Emphasing that reading is something to be enjoyed not just about education
  • Selecting high quality  books across a variety of genres to appeal to the broadest range of people, with high production values and meeting good accessibility standards, including those for people who are not yet confident readers
  • Providing an incentive to carry on reading while they are still fired up and excited by providing hand-picked recommendations and opportunities to get involved in The Reading Agency's other programmes

How is World Book Night funded?

We are hugely supported by the UK publishing community and World Book Night wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of the authors who waive their royalties on the books we give away and the publishers who fund the printing and production as well as making donations to our core costs.

The books are printed at cost by Clays (St Ives) and CPI, two of the UK's largest printers on sustainable paper. The distribution is sponsored by Yodel. Other funders include Arts Council England, The Paul Hamlyn Foundation, The Foyle Foundation, John Laing Chariatable Trust and a huge range of private supporters who believe in the value of our work.

Any donations you make will help us reach more non-readers. Please donate via our JustGiving page.


Why April 23?

April 23 is a symbolic date for world literature. It is both the birth and death day of Shakespeare, as well as the death day of Cervantes, the great Spanish novelist. It is in their honour that UNESCO appointed it the international day of the book and that we choose it to celebrate World Book Night.

April 23 also marks the city of Barcelona's celebration of St George's Day. St George is the patron saint of Catalonia as well as England and traditionally, to celebrate this day, Spanish gentlemen gave their ladies roses and the ladies returned the favour with a book. Considering the rich literary history of this day, it seemed more than fitting that April 23 should be chosen as the day of celebrating reading and the giving of books!

Next: Why is World Book Night Important?

On World Book Night

Reading is still alive – in better health than ever, actually – and World Book Night proves it. To be included as one of the 25 titles is a real thrill.

Lee Child

In your country

You are currently viewing the UK site. Change to...


Want to see World Book Night in your country?


The 2014 Books

The 2013 Books

The 2012 Books

The 2011 Books

The World Book Night Book Club

You are here: Home About Us