Thousands of books – from classic Philip Pullman to Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid page-turners – have been donated to schools, libraries and community organisations in disadvantaged areas of Greater Manchester to help children keep reading during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Manchester Children’s Book Festival’s (MCBF) Big Book Giveaway 2020 has given away almost 2000 books to provide a welcome boost to families affected by school closures.

MCBF is a year-round programme of literary events and projects that help children to develop a love of reading and writing. Organised by the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University, its Creative Director, Carol Ann Duffy, established MCBF during her tenure as Poet Laureate.

Plans for this year included an MCBF Poetry in the Park Fun Day to help launch the new Manchester Poetry Library but, when this was cancelled due to COVID-19, organisers quickly diverted their attention to helping children at home.

Major publishers, including Penguin/Random House, Macmillan Children’s, Scholastic and Hachette Kids responded to donate titles worth a total of £15,000, including novels, poetry anthologies, biographies, writing journals and sticker and cardboard books for younger readers.

Titles donated included works by much-loved authors like Jacqueline Wilson, Roald Dahl, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Tom Fletcher, Roddy Doyle and Floella Benjamin and poets such as Brian Moses, Roger McGough, Paul Cookson, Matt Goodfellow and, Carol Ann Duffy.

Duffy said: “At the heart of MCBF is our wish to bring children into contact with books and to nurture our young readers. The incredibly generous donation by publishers of free books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction for children has meant we have been able to continue this work during lockdown.

“I owe my life to books, from my local library or local bookshop when I was growing up, and it is important to me and to my colleagues at MCBF to nourish the imaginations and dreams of children through reading.”


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