World Book Day celebrations and events come to libraries across south east London

Library books. Photo: Alex_Ford

Readers and literary fans across London will be involved in a range of projects to celebrate World Book Day today.

Goldsmiths’ Open Book Project is one of the two university based projects chosen to be part of World Book Night on March 5, in which a million free books will be given away.World Book Night is an independent initiative inspired by World Book Day, which last year distributed tokens to schoolchildren for 600,000 specially printed books.

The Open Book Project is directed by an ex-offender and Goldsmiths graduate, Joe Baden. It encourages people who have a history of alcoholism, drug addiction and mental health problems or are ex-offenders, to consider further or higher education.

The project provides a range of activities, including university visits, lectures, seminars, and workshops with students from similar backgrounds and one-to-one sessions with experienced staff. More than 58 adults who were previously excluded from society have found places on undergraduate courses thanks to the project.

Danny Afzal, the Open Book project assistant at Goldsmiths said: “There is no other larger section of society today, more excluded than serving prisoners.

“As the American academic Charles V Eliot said: ‘These books of poetry and fiction will be the quietest and most constant of friends, they will be the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers’.”

A million books will be given away during the World Book Night; 20,000 volunteers are set to distribute 48 books each, and the organisers will distribute another 40,000.

World Book Day was created by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading and is marked in over 100 countries around the globe. In the UK and Ireland this year it will take place tomorrow, March 3. It is a partnership of publishers, booksellers and interested parties.

The day aims to encourage children to explore the pleasures of books and reading by providing them with the opportunity to have a book of their own. School children are entitled to receive a £1 book token, which they can then exchange for one of the six books specially published.

These literary celebrations take place at a time when the future of our local libraries is uncertain, and is an opportunity to realise how important reading services are for people who live along the East London Line.

ELL has compiled a guide for you to celebrate World Book Day and World Book Night at your nearest library:


Events for children will be inspired by the popular picture book The Gruffalo, which was the most borrowed children’s book between July 2009 to June 2010.

Blackheath Village, Catford, Crofton Park, Downham, Forest Hill, Grove Park, Lewisham, Manor House, Sydenham, Wavelengths and New Cross libraries will be reading the book to kids under five years old and there will be activities related to it. Contact the individual libraries for more information.

The Forest Hill library will celebrate the World Book Night, with writers and poets participating in it. The event is free to attend. However, places must be pre-booked with Forest Hill library (Tel: 020 8699 2065).


Events for young children will be inspired by Mr Nosey character.

Clapton, CRL James, Hackney Central, Homerton, Shoreditch, Stamford Hill, Stoke Newington and Woodberry Down Community Libraries will have the character telling stories to under fives.

For information about adult events, click here.

Tower Hamlets:

The events will take place at Ideas Store in Crisp Street.

There will be a short stories competition and a World Book Day games for children.

For adults there will be a short story competition and a Golden time book party at 10.30am-12.30pm. Includes quizzes and storytelling.

Central London:

On Friday night Trafalgar Square will host what is being billed as the biggest single literary event in history. It is a free event dedicated to a “glittering celebration of the written world”.

There will be featured appearances from many celebrated authors, ranging from Alan Bennet to Nick Cave, reading from their favourite books.

More details about this exciting event can be found on the World Book Night website.

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