Monday, 24 February 2014

World Book Night

I've been selected as a 2014 World Book Night Giver!! I've taken part before and it is fantastic to be involved in giving the joy of reading, the joy of imagination through 'new' books to people who can't normally afford to buy them or don't usually read.

It was with this in my mind that I chose my three books:
  • Today Everything Changes by Andy McNab
  • Short Stories by Roald Dahl
  • Four Warned by Jeffrey Archer
I got my first choice:

Abandoned as a baby, Andy McNab's start in life was tough. He grew up in South London with foster parents, and poverty on all sides. Andy attended seven schools in as many years, disillusioned and in remedial classes. Before long his life was one of petty crime. By the age of sixteen he was in juvenile detention.

The book opens with a break in that goes very, very badly wrong and is even more shocking for the reader when we discover just how young Andy is. From there he tells the story of his tough youth till, in the army, he learns to read and everything changes. This is an incredibly powerful story of how important reading and literacy is, first hand from someone who knows what it's like to be an adult who struggles with reading and who has gone on to make his living as a writer. Today Everything Changes is the inspiring story of when life changed for the better for now bestselling author Andy McNab. 

This is quite an odd choice for me, and not a book I would usually choose because of the army connection. However, firstly I am not choosing a book for myself, I'm choosing a book for somebody who possibly may not have read a book for many, many years. Secondly, I know from personal experience just how important reading and literacy is and thirdly, I was aware of this book before World Book Night, as we have a copy in the library where I work. It is a Quick Read book and I have spent the last few years promoting Quick Reads.

1 in 6 adults of working age in the UK find reading difficult and may never pick up a book.  People’s reasons for not reading are varied but are often based in fear. Some people say they find books scary and intimidating, thinking they are ‘not for them’ or that books are difficult or boring.
Quick Reads sets out to challenge these beliefs and to show that books and reading can be for everyone. Each year we commission big name authors to write short books that are specifically designed to be easy to read.  They are the same as mainstream books in every respect but are simply shorter and easier to tackle for adults who are less confident in their reading skills. The books are then sold through major retailers, online booksellers and are loaned from libraries.
Quick Reads is making real, lasting changes to people’s lives.  Since 2006 they have distributed over 4.5 million books, registered 3 million library loans and through the outreach work hundreds of thousands of new readers each year, often in some of the hardest to reach communities, are introduced to the joys and benefits of reading. 
I thought about the people I would be giving the books to, some will be homeless, and some will be care leavers. There is scientific proof that children in care who are going through trauma find it very difficult to concentrate and this is often the reason why some children in care find it difficult to keep up with their studies. And this is the same trauma that a homeless person will be facing. Moved from placement to placement, living on their wits, no wonder it's so difficult to sit quietly with a book and feel safe enough to get lost in the wonderful worlds created by authors. So, it is was with this criteria that I chose my three books. Two Quick Reads and one set of short stories. And I love the title of my first choice, Today Everything Changes. I hope that when my WBN book receivers read the first page it will be the first step on a journey to a positive change in their lives. 

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