From sharing your favourite childhood read to joining the world’s oldest lit society, we’ve got some novel ideas

Increasing empathy, improving relationships, reducing depression…such are books’ impact on wellbeing, they’re now available on prescription. That’s why the Reading Agency is on a mission to make as many available as possible with its annual World Book Night.

Aptly taking place on 23 April - the date of Shakespeare’s birth and death, as well as when Cervantes was buried (his namesake institute will be marking the occasion) - the initiative sees UK publishers donate a list of titles spanning fiction, poetry, non-fiction and young adult to be distributed around the country.

Prisons, libraries, colleges, hospitals, care homes and homeless shelters are just some of the recipients - but there are many more places (and ways) you can celebrate the literary love-in, from author events to bookish initiatives here in Manchester…


Touchstones Rochdale will be hosting a special evening with critically-acclaimed author Catherine Czerkawska on Saturday 21 April, whose new novel The Posy Ring is a must for fans of Outlander. Set on the (fictional) Hebridean island of Garve, it expertly weaves the present-day story of antiques seller Daisy Graham with that of sixteenth-century cousins Mateo and Francisco, survivors from the ill-fated Spanish Armada. A historical romance with a difference…

Touchstones Arts & Heritage Centre, The Esplanade, Rochdale, OL16 1AQ (6pm; tickets £3 from 

2018 04 19 Hebrides By John Mc Sporran
The Posy Ring is set in the brooding Hebridean islands John McSporran


According to the National Literacy Trust research, a staggering 40,000 school children in Greater Manchester don’t own a single book at home. Stockport printer Cartridge Save has teamed up with the charity to launch ‘Gift of Books’ - simply donate your favourite childhood read, with their slip explaining why you love it, and drop off at one of the designated drop-off points before 31 May. 

170801 Child Reading
One in eight disadvantaged children don’t own a book


As 100 years since some women were allowed to vote, 2018 is a special year for Pankhurst Centre; former home of suffrage leader Emmeline Pankhurst. A packed centenary events programme spans the Women’s Words exhibition at Central Library (from May) to a new Women’s Aid garden, which will be showcased at the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show in July. For now, though, the centre is requesting suggestions and/or donations for a new children’s library that inspires girls and young women. 

Pankhurst Statue Small
Hazel Reeves’ statue of Emmeline Pankhurst will be unveiled this December


Ahead of last year’s World Book Night, we published a literary roundup in favour of Manchester’s (successful) bid to be UNESCO City of Literature: from publishers to bookshops, faces to places and events. Additions this year include Altrincham Word Fest and First Draft’s Let the Artists In, while Read Manchester and A Small Tale are two of many initiatives inspiring children to read. Talking of which, check out our nine top spots to curl up with a book

Chethams Library
Chetham’s is the oldest public library in the English-speaking world


It may be best known as home to the oldest public library in the English-speaking world but did you know Manchester boasts the world’s oldest literary and philosophical society too? Established in 1721, it still hosts regular talks on everything from obesity to computers and, er, humanitarians. Next up, the day after World Book Night, is Earthrise: the first views of Earth from Space

Why books matter - the facts

  • In England, the median hourly wage of workers with the highest levels of literacy is 94% higher than for workers who have the lowest levels of literacy
  • Reading for pleasure is more important for children’s cognitive development than their parents’ level of education and is a more powerful factor in life achievement than socio-economic background
  • Low levels of literacy cost the UK an estimated £81 billion a year in lost earnings and increased welfare spending impacting on the economy as a whole
  • Literacy has been found to have a relationship with depression: 36% of those with low literacy were found to have depressive symptoms, compared to 20% of those with the highest levels of literacy