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Much-loved children’s authors are joining an initiative to use social media to read extracts of their books to millions of children and young people living in isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the World is a collaboration between the International Publishers Association (IPA), the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF. It began on 2 April, International Children’s Book Day, with Italian author Elisabetta Dami, creator of the popular character Geronimo Stilton series.

“These are uncharted waters for us all, and the psycho-social effects of prolonged isolation and social distancing are yet to be seen and understood,” says IPA President Hugo Setzer. “All of us should take particular care of our mental health at the moment, and especially that of young minds. The IPA wanted to do something positive to bring children and their favourite writers closer, to stimulate their interest in books and to create a carefree moment for families to share during this difficult period of confinement.”

At UNICEF, Executive Director Henrietta Fore, observes: “Children’s lives and routines have been turned upside down in just a few short weeks.  Even when the outside world is out of bounds for now, reading can remind children and young people that the transportive power of books is unlimited.”

At the WHO, Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, says: “The World Health Organisation is committed to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic on all fronts, especially when it comes to protecting young people.  We understand the fear and anxieties many feel and know how the joy of reading can stimulate young minds, ease tensions and provide hope.”

Elisabetta Dami read on her personal Instagram account in English.  Her books have sold more than 180 million copies around the world and are published in 50 different languages.  She also used her platform to respond to comments and questions.

Several other noted children’s authors have agreed to join the Read the World initiative, details of which will be announced soon.