The Big Read

28th March 2003 at 00:00
The BBC's Big Read campaign is the largest-scale effort to get the nation reading for pleasure (reading fiction, at least) and talking about books since the National Year of Reading in 1996.

Nominations for best-loved books are invited between April 5 and April 19.

But non-fiction, short stories, poetry or plays are not eligible, perhaps in the cause of a less complicated path to the choice of the "nation's favourite book", supported by programming on the lines of last year's Great Britons season.

The voters' top 100 novels will be revealed (alphabetically) at the end of April and the top 10 in the autumn with a programme of events and activities to fuel the debate through the summer.

Programmes on the launch night, Saturday April 5, include a special literary edition of Mastermind and the chance to hear Sophie Dahl, Terry Pratchett and Michael Palin spill the beans on their own favourite books.

The BBC's own Big Read site ( is where you go for celebrity-free online debate, a books quiz and the Big Read pack for existing and new reading groups.

To help schools, nurseries and post-16 institutions make the most of the higher public profile for reading over two terms and the intervening holidays, involving the whole school community, the National Literary Trust is offering downloadable resource packs on its website,, where you can also register for the schools' Big Read newsletter. The primary pack includes ideas for a Big Read assembly, and for incorporating the Big Read debate in the literacy hour.

To register your school or college for online voting, send the school name and a contact phone number to: You'll then be sent registration instructions which must be completed by April 4.

Best-loved books can also be nominated by phone (09011 110 820) or via Trilogies or quartets that have been published in a single volume (such as The Lord of the Rings) are eligible, but you can't pitch for all the Barchester Chronicles or all the Discworld sequence. And any attempts at a "mass orchestrated vote" will be rumbled. And absolutely no poetry. Sorry, Paradise Lost fans.

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