Giving the gift of literature

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Most people have probably heard of World Book Day, a celebration of books and reading in over 100 countries around the world. Perhaps you remember getting a £1 World Book Day token at school, which could be exchanged for one of six specially published World Book Day books. In 2011 World Book Day is on Thursday March 3 and this year it will be different. For the first year World Book Night will take place and some selected givers have gained their chance to distribute their favourite book.

On one night 20,000 people will hand out one million books. Anyone could apply, all you had to do was select your favourite book from a list of 25 titles and describe why you wanted to distribute this book and why you were passionate about reading. Each selected giver is to be given 48 copies of their selected title and encouraged to hand them out to people who are more likely to be reluctant readers, or those who may not be able to gain access to books. Out of the one million books 40,000 are to be distributed by World Book Night to those who are unable to participate.

The books are to be handed out on Saturday March 5 with people from all over the UK and Ireland participating as givers. The aim of World Book Night is to achieve an equal spread of givers throughout the country. The givers have been notified of their acceptance but are yet to be announced by World Book Night. You can follow @WorldBookNight on Twitter or keep an eye on the website www.worldbooknight.org so that you can see who the giver will be for Lancaster or your home town.

The 25 titles were chosen by a committee of people who are dedicated to books and reading. Through the recommendations of publishers and booksellers the list was narrowed down to a list of 25 modern classics. Possibly the most well known member of the committee is Stephen Fry, but the list also includes the heads of books at Waterstones, Amazon and W H Smiths. Journalists, authors, poets and broadcasters are all adding their collective influence to the mix as well. The books include Phillip Pullman’s Northern Lights, Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front and Mark Haddon’s Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nigh Time. The chosen books provide an interesting mix of literature and poetry in order to appeal to everyone and try and add a new piece of literature into people’s lives.

The World Book Night organisers have also set up a facility for people to create their own reading groups in celebration of World Book Night. The groups are designed to encourage people to further discuss World Book Night and to allow people to discuss any other books they are interested in. The World Book Night website provides information on local groups or how to set up your own.

The World Book Night is a fantastic organisation providing books to those who may not be fortunate enough to have the opportunity to read so many incredible titles. So no matter where in the country you are on March 5 there should hopefully be a World Book Night giver somewhere close to you, but make sure you are quick as each giver will only have 48 copies of their favourite title to give away. A World Book Night giver could make an enormous difference to people’s lives, with the simple gift of a book. If you are fortunate enough to receive a World Book Night book, why not pass it on to another person who you thinks deserves the book and keep the spirit of World Book Night going throughout the year.

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