Commuters travelling across Manchester's Metrolink network were in for a treat today as thousands of free books were given away on the city's trams to celebrate World Book Day® and
The book give-away - a partnership between charity World Book Day®, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), the National Literacy Trust (NLT) and Manchester City Council - saw thousands of free reads placed on tram seats at the crack of dawn and sent on their way from tram depots, ready to be picked up by commuters of all ages as they made their way into school, college, or work.
There was a book for passengers to take home on each seat of the first morning trams, along with a special bookmark to help encourage the reading for pleasure habit amongst commuters and the children in their lives.
The read, ride, and take-home literary give-away put thousands of specially produced World Book Day® books into the hands of the city's children and young people.
Whilst the majority of books left on tram seats today were World Book Day® titles for children, a selection of books for adults were also left on seats to help further spread a love of reading amongst all ages.
Free books were also handed out at three city libraries located near tram stops for anyone who missed picking up a book on the tram - Central Library in St Peter's Square, Abraham Moss Library, and the Forum Library in Wythenshawe.
In addition to the unique read and ride book giveaway, Manchester was also chosen by charity World Book Day® to host visits by two of their fourteen World Book Day® authors whose specially commissioned books were being given away to children and young people across the country to mark the day.
Authors L.D. Lapinski and A.M. Dassu spent the morning in Manchester riding the tram with children and young people and visiting schools to give pupils an insight into their stories, writing, and the world of an author.
More than 300 children from five primary schools in the city also visited Central Library during the day for a special 'meet the author' session with award-winning author Hannah Gold, winner of the Blue Peter Book Award 2022 for her book 'The Lost Bear'.
Councillor Adele Douglas, Deputy Executive Member for Employment, Skills, and Leisure, Manchester City Council said: "We take reading for pleasure very seriously here in Manchester and want all our children and young people to grow up loving a good read.
"Research shows that reading literally can change lives, and what better day to champion and celebrate this than on World Book Day.
"So, whether you're on a tram, sitting at home, or out and about in one of our libraries, pick up a book and see where it takes you!"
Today's free book giveaway on the trams is the second time that partners TfGM have teamed up with city bosses to help boost reading levels in the city and follows a hugely successful read and ride giveaway pre-pandemic back in 2017.
Danny Vaughan, TfGM’s Head of Metrolink, said: “We're very pleased to be supporting partners in marking World Book Day in a very unique way in Manchester, and we can’t wait to welcome pupils and authors onto Metrolink throughout the day as part of the celebrations.
"Travelling on public transport can be a good time for customers of all ages to catch up on some reading, and I hope everyone enjoys the books that will be left for them on the trams today."
Cassie Chadderton, Chief Executive at World Book Day® said: "At World Book Day®, we want all families, children and young people to have the opportunity to discover a love of reading. Fun reading experiences are at the heart of helping children and young people become lifelong readers and set them up for future success.
"We’re delighted to be working with our partners in Manchester to help make sure families, children and young people in the city have access to our World Book Day® books and develop a lifelong habit of reading for pleasure. Just a short time spent reading together as a family can have a major impact on how children view reading.
"We can’t wait to see how families across Manchester make this year’s World Book Day® their own."
Since 2016 Manchester City Council has been working in partnership with the National Literacy Trust on Read Manchester - a campaign to boost literacy levels in the city through reading for pleasure.
Having a book of your own is vital to sparking a lifelong love of reading, but National Literacy Trust research shows that 500,000 children in the UK -1 in 15 children - say they don't have a book of their own at home.
Jason Vit, Head of Local Areas at the National Literacy Trust said: “At the National Literacy Trust, we're committed to making sure every child can discover the joys of reading.
"Our research found that having books at home is linked to higher reading frequency and reading enjoyment among children, and yet over 500,000 children in the UK aged 8 – 18 said that they don’t own a single book of their own at home.
"We're proud to be working with our friends at World Book Day®, Manchester City Council, and Transport for Greater Manchester to help address this situation and get free books into the hands of children who need them the most.”
World Book Day® author L.D. Lapinski's book for children ' StrangeWorlds Travel Agency: Adventure in the Floating Mountains' tells the story of the once-every-century Cloud-Wish Festival in the magical world of Strofadia, of children Flick and Jonathan who have travelled there from the Strangeworlds Travel Agency via suitcase to be a part of it, and the part they end up playing in trying to save the festival from disaster.
L.D. Lapinski, author of World Book Day £1 book, ‘Strangeworlds Travel Agency: Adventure in the Floating Mountains’ said: “It’s a dream come true to be part of World Book Day 2023, and to be meeting the young readers of Manchester on my favourite day of the year! World Book Day is such a special day of celebration, and of raising awareness about the importance of giving children and young people access to a wide range of stories - I am thrilled that The Strangeworlds Travel Agency is part of this adventure.”
Aimed at older readers, World Book Day® author A.M. Dassu's book 'Boot It' with its central characters Sami and Ali who dream of playing for the school football team, is a powerful story of friendship and booting out racism.
A.M. Dassu, author of World Book Day £1 book, ‘Boot It!’ said: “Having lived in Manchester, and basing my books there, it's a real honour to be returning to celebrate World Book Day as a World Book Day author in the city that has my heart! It's been a long-held dream of mine to write stories that reach all children, especially those who may be reluctant to read or aren't able to access books from libraries and bookshops. I feel so lucky to be working with World Book Day to help encourage children to read for pleasure. I'm looking forward to meeting the students at Manchester Academy, and I hope Sami and Ali's story will empower and show them how to stand up for themselves and others."
World Book Day’s specially commissioned £1/€1.50 titles are also available for free to all children in exchange for a £1/€1.50 book token. Families can find a participating retailer here