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Reader Recommendations for World Book Night

Written by Rachael Norris, 22nd April 2020

World Book Nightorganised by The Reading Agencyis the annual celebration of books and reading that takes place on 23 April. People from all backgrounds are brought together for one reason – to inspire others to read more. 

Here we have compiled some great literary ideas and inspiration to keep you reading during lockdown. 

1. Reading recommendations  

We hope that you and your loved ones are doing well, but we know that some of you will have people you love in hospital,  some of you will have suffered a bereavement or be having a hard time. Earlier this year, for Time To Talk Day we put together a list of novels and poems that can support mental wellbeing that you can revisit here.  

Books from our list of reads for Time to Talk day including The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemmingway

More of a listener than a reader? The Reading Agency’s list of books includes The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fizgerald, North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell and Bedtime Stories for Stressed Out Adults by Lucy Mangan. Thanks to World Book Night, you can download free audio books and try samples of these texts here. 

If you’re a Reader Volunteerhead to the Shared Reading community hub to access for our regular Books, Plays and Poems of the Month. 

2.  The Reader at Home  

If you're getting tired of reading alone, missing your Shared Reading group or are not quite sure what to read next - be inspired and get involved with our online daily readings. Escape to different literary worlds in our Places to Go seriessit back and listen to our Featured Poem read out by a different reader every week or let us know what you think and joiin the discussion on one of our Facebook Live Streams that take place every Tuesday and Thursday at 1pm. 


3. Storytimes and reading inspired crafts with The Storybarn 

Share a great story with someone you love. Our team from The Storybarn have put their storyhunting hats back on and are hosting Storybarn Live! every Friday at 11.30am from home. The Storybarn Facebook page is a treasure trove of activities to do with young people, all inspired by our favourite books! Have a go at a drawing tutorial, potato printing or building a house for three little pigs – tweet us your creations @TheStorybarn using #ShowUsYourCrafts.   


4. Celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday! 

23 April 1564 is most commonly thought to be the day that William Shakespeare was born.  Shakespeare it up by taking part in some of these wonderful activities... 

The Royal Shakespeare Company are inviting people to perform a speech, paint a picture or bake a cake and #ShareYourShakespeare on social media. Reader volunteer and crochet extraordinaire, Sue, has already created this very regal knitted Hamlet: 

For some wheel fun, cycling Shakespeare troupe The Handlebards, who visited Calderstones last Summer, are hosting free online Shakespeare workshops this Friday 25 April at 11am and 12.30pm aimed at students aged 8-14 but all are welcome to join!  

For the academics, the world's leading Shakespeare scholar, Professor Sir Stanley Wells, is marking the occasion with a series of four new public lectures, which will be available to enjoy online over the coming weeks. 

We were so looking forward to welcoming Shakespeare’s Globe to Calderstones this Summer for an outdoor performance, however, since we have to stay indoors you can watch this 2009 production of Romeo & Juliet from the Globe for free on YouTube until Sunday 3 May 2020. 


5. Read aloud together 

Reading can be something to do alone, but it can also be something that brings us together. In our #SharedReading groups we bring people together around literature and breathe life into books by reading aloud. During Feedback Week, 91% of our Readers told us that ‘The reading sessions made me feel better’. Whether you are isolating alone or wanting to reach out to someone who is, we have produced this guide to help you get started. If you have lost touch with your Shared Reading group or would like to join one you can email or call 0151 729 2250 between the hours of 10am and 4pm, Monday – Friday. 


6. Make up your own socially distanced book title 

The Online Merchant of Venice playtext cover

(© Teunkie Van Der Sluijs / Young Vic Theatre)

We love this "Socially Distanced Shakespeare" book cover series by the Young Vic Theatre in London. It got us thinking – what would some socially distanced poems, books, plays or novels look like?  

Far from the Madding Crowd? A Room of One’s Own? The Constant Gardener? Email with your classic texts retitled for 2020. 


7. The Reader magazine 

The Reader Magazine is bursting with recommendations of books to add to your reading pile, brilliant books for younger readers, plus suggestions for how to fill the time when you’re not reading. Issue 71 features award-winning Trainspotting director, Danny Boyle, and author and patron of The Reader Frank Cotrell Boyce on one of their regular book-swapping conversations. You can get hold of a copy on our website and get involved by sending recommendations for what we should include in the next issue


8. Volunteer to be a Reading Hero! 

The Reading Heroes scheme was launched by The Reader in partnership with BBC Children in Need to pair volunteers with looked after children to read aloud together each week. Following the lockdown, our work with these children has moved online, and we're always on the lookout for more heroes to join the team!  If you love reading and can spare around an hour a week, get in touch by emailing All volunteers receive full training and ongoing support from The Reader.  

Each week is always a very positive experience for both of us. I always praise his efforts and tell him that he should be very proud of everything he has accomplished. He always seems to look forward to my visits, as do I!"  

Read more from one of our Reading Heroes volunteers.  


9. Pass on a Poem! 

Pass On A Poem was founded in 2006 to give as many people as possible the opportunity to enjoy more poetry. The Pass On A Poem team recently produced this reading of The Lady of Shallot by Alfred Lord Tennyson read by a myriad of famous faces including Sir Ian McKellen, Sir David Attenborough, Joanna Lumley, Idris Elba and more! 

We invite you to pass on poems you love to us, share pictures of yourself, what you’re reading, where you’re reading or just send us a line about what you are up to – we'd love to hear from you. Tweet us using #ReadersAtHome, email or follow us on Twitter to see what all of our Readers at home have been up to already. 


10. Watch our #ReadingHour live stream 

To celebrate #WorldBookNight – our founder and director Jane Davis will be reading live on Facebook on Thursday 23 April, 7pm – 8pm during #ReadingHour. We’ll be reading a classic from children's literature The Mouse and His Child by Russell Hoban - a perfect bedtime story. The live stream will end just before 8pm so you’ll be in good time to clap for our carers and take a moment to say thank you to key workers in the UK. 


We hope you enjoyed our list of Reader Recommendations – is there anything we missed? Get in touch to let us know.  

If you’re a charity, prison, NHS body or other organisation who is keen to bring the comfort and escapism of reading to people you support, you may be interested in our new free reading activity packs. We’d love to hear from you. Please email us at 

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