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Inspiring people to get reading

Jonty Claypole

Director, BBC Arts

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Reading is one of life's greatest pleasures. But the benefits go beyond pleasure alone. Reading is how we broaden our horizons and sharpen our imaginations - not just as children, but right through life. What's more, the authors and books we read form a shared culture that binds us as a nation and communicates our story to the rest of the world.

That's why authors and books have always been at the heart of the BBC. And whether you're catching an author talking about their latest book on BBC Breakfast,listening to the CBeebies Bedtime Story with your child, celebrating the lives and works of our greatest authors on television or being transported by our many radio book shows and television documentaries, you are joining millions of others in a shared love of books and reading.

But in 2016 we're going to push reading even higher up the agenda - to include more people, inspire a new generation, and let everyone have their say on the books that matter most to them. With the help of key partners who include BookTrust, The National Literacy Trust, The Reading Agency, The Society of Chief Librarians, Scottish Library and Information Council we want to revisit the ambition of The Big Read of 2003 and encourage everyone to Get Reading. Over the course of the year, we will inspire audiences with a broad range of very special programming about great authors and their works. This begins with our BBC Shakespeare Festival in the spring, as well as a season on the Brontë Sisters across BBC Two and BBC Four and programming on Rudyard Kipling and Jeanette Winterson. In the summer, we'll be focusing on Children's Books, celebrating Roald Dahl's centenary and manyof our greatest living children’s authors.

In the autumn, we'll be finding out The Books That Inspired Britain, and asking the nation to share the book that matters most to them through social media. Leading the charge will be a team of well-known faces who are going to take their own favourite books into schools for a new season of programmes on BBC Two. Simon Mayo and Mariella Frostrup will be driving the campaign on Radio, while the BBC Nations & Regions will be finding out the books that define the different parts of Britain. A special BBC Two show will gather the results of the campaign, offering a revealing insight into British taste and reading habits in the 21st Century - not to mention an irresistible list of books that can't fail to please simply because they've pleased so many others.

And as the winter nights draw in, we'll be asking the whole nation to Get Reading and curl up with one of those books in the first ever Get Reading Weekend, when the BBC and partners will inspire everyone everywhere to read something new.

Throughout the year, we will also be encouraging the public themselves to write, through schemes like Chris Evans’ 500 Words children’s story writing competition on Radio 2, which is supported by The Reading Agency, Radio 4’s National Short Story Award and Radio 1’s Young Writers Award, both of which are supported by BookTrust.

This is our ambition for 2016 - to inspire audiences and get them reading and talking about books.

Jonty Claypole is Director, BBC Arts

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