Happy World Book Day!
This year marks the 25th anniversary of World Book Day.
World Book Day was started as an initiative by UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific & Cultural Organisation) back on 23rd April 1995. This event was moved in the UK to avoid clashing with the Easter holidays so all children could celebrate it while at school. The aim was to encourage children to read more and make reading more accessible no matter the child’s background. The UK began celebrating World Book Day in 1997.
Nowadays there are many national events, activities and competitions linked to the day and most schools do some form of fancy dress. It used to be dress up as a book character but some schools have been creative and asked pupils to dress in themes, whether a particular book, or a word.
I remember being so judgemental about people sending their kids to school as non-book characters. It was a pet peeve of mine. Alas, I’m now one of those parents as my 3 year old has just gone off to her first ever World Book Day at nursery dressed up as Jessie from Toy Story 2 (3 and 4) – her choice – and while the film character does appear in many books, I do feel like we have cheated a bit. It really wasn’t worth the melt-down to tell her to wear something else though!
As a child, World Book Day was one of my favourite days of the year – we got to dress up in fancy dress at school and do book-related activities and were given a book voucher for a free book! I don’t recall dressing up every year and I remember being insanely jealous of my friends who dressed up as Disney princesses with their fancy Disney Store gowns. I remember longing to win the fancy dress competition but quite often the voting was done by our peers and I was never a popular enough kid to secure the votes. I do remember the assembly and seeing the whole school dressed up. I remember our headteacher, Mr O’Neill, talking passionately about his favourite book – The Hobbit; his speeches were my first ever introduction to Tolkien. He would read a passage from the book and it was so interesting. I always wanted to read the book after that. It took me ages to get round to it and of course it’s now forever linked by nostalgia to my old Headteacher.
My mam tells me that I once won a fancy dress competition. It must have been one of the very 1st World Book Days. We went to the Empire Theatre and I was dressed as Little Red Riding Hood, basket and all. Unfortunately I refused to have my photograph taken which I’m very annoyed at myself for now! I do remember getting the basket from my Nana’s house. I think it was a wicker basket that once held fake fruit.
I remember dressing up as Alice from Alice in Wonderland too, with a lovely blue dress and an apron hand-made by my mam. With my long blonde hair, I really suited it. My most cringe-worthy one was in my final year at primary school, where I did a last minute costume and dressed up as a Mummy by wrapping myself in toilet paper. I really annoyed my maths teacher by filling her bin full of the tissue paper before morning break even started as it kept tearing and unravelling from me.
Then the devastation of learning that in secondary school, they didn’t celebrate World Book Day and my dressing up days were done…until I discovered cosplay when I left school that is!
This year, the theme of the day is “You are a Reader” – a lovely affirmative motto for all children no matter their ability to read. In an effort to be more inclusive, there are now 11 books available in braille, thanks to efforts from the RNIB. There are 15 books available in total so 11/15 is much better than it could have been!
Every World Book Day a selection of books are available for £1 and can be exchanged for the £1 book token given to students in participating schools. This year the selection includes:
– Rocket Rules: Ten Little Ways to Think Big! by Nathan Bryon and Dapo Adeola
– Dinosaur Roar and Friends! by Peter Curtis and Jeanne Willis
– Hey Duggee: The World Book Day Badge by Studio AKA
– Welcome to Grimwood: Five Freakishly Funny Fables by Nadia Shireen
– Jemima the Pig and the 127 Acorns by Michael Morpurgo and Guy Parker-Rees
– My Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Silly Book of True or False by Matt Lucas and Sarah Horne
– The Worst Class in the World in Danger! by Joanna Nadin and Rikin Parekh
– PEAK PERIL: A High-rise Mystery by Sharna Jackson
– The Wizard and Me: More Misadventures of Bubbles the Guinea Pig by Simon Farnaby and Claire Powell
– Think Like a Boss: Discover the skills that turn great ideas into CASH by Rashmi Sirdeshpande and Adam Hayes
– The Last Word by Ben Bailey Smith
– Boy, Missing by Sophie McKenzie
– Deadly! Irish History: Fun with the Celts and the Vikings! by John Farrelly (IRELAND ONLY)
– Cluasa Capaill ar an Rí by Bridget Bhreathnach and Shona Shirley Macdonald (IRELAND ONLY)
– Lledrith yn y Llyfrgell by Anni Llŷn (WALES ONLY)
The books range across the reading levels and there are exclusives for Ireland and Wales which include titles in the native languages, a WBD first in Ireland.
There are lots of activities and competitions on the World Book Day website if you want to take part, and remember that it may be called World Book Day, but it doesn’t have to be restricted to one day a year. The website also has a lot of year-round activities.
As it is a charitiable event, there are ways you can help spread the love of reading to children of all ages and making a donation is one way. You can also purchase special edition pin badges and patches via the website.
What is your favourite World Book Day memory?
Happy reading, everyone!