It’s World Book Day! World Book Day is celebrated each year on the first Thursday in March. We celebrate World Book Day every year and are very pleased to be World Book Day Champions for Reading Wales. Read on to find out our thoughts on the importance of World Book Day and how you can join in too:
As a child I spent a lot of time reading. I travelled all around the world and walked in other people’s shoes without even leaving the comfort of my bedroom. Still for me, there’s nothing like the joy of escaping into a book. With a book in your bag, you can never be lonely or bored. There are other advantages to reading too. Of course educationally, the more you read the better you get and your reading stamina and speed increase which makes learning in every subject and language a whole lot easier. For me, reading has always been a great way to find friends and to start a conversation. Reading also helps us to develop empathy and to have a greater understanding of other people and their feelings as author David Foster Wallace, summarises “Fiction is about what it means to be human.”
It’s important to me to pass this gift onto my children. I have always read to them since they were babies. Some parents stop reading aloud to their kids once they can read whole books for themselves but I still read to my older children too in addition to them devouring chapter books on their own. As a child, I loved the scene in “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” when Milly reads aloud to the six “sisters” never realising I would get to recreate a similar scene myself as an adult.
In our house, every day is a “book day” but we love World Book Days to get to celebrate this skill, hobby and special gift in and out of school.
A Book That Inspired me as a Child
Reading Wales asked me to name the book that inspired me most as a child. To be honest, I have too many to choose from (a good problem to have) so I picked the first one that I thought of. Anne of Green Gables. The story of Anne of Green Gables has always stayed with me. I love the way her life wasn’t easy but she always saw the beauty and positive side of life. Reading these books gave me strategies to cope if kids weren’t kind in school (sometimes by teaching me what not to do. I never cracked a slate over anyone’s head!) and to deal with bereavement.
As a child I had the first five books in a set and loved reading (and rereading) them. In the days before the internet it was harder to know what other works by the same author were available. It was only when I reread these to my own children that I realised I hadn’t completed the collection. The joy of finding new stories about one of my favourite childhood literary characters was amazing. Rereading “Anne’s House of Dreams” as an adult felt even more poignant. It’s heartbreaking when Anne and Gilbert lose their first baby. I loved reading Anne of Ingleside seeing Anne as a mother of six, again with more heartbreak to come. To this day, if I meet a fellow Anne fan I know I have met a “kindred spirit”. I loved rereading this series of books to my children and am so pleased they love Anne as much as me!
It’s Not Just About the Costumes
I see a lot of parents worrying about World Book Day and the time/costs involved in choosing and preparing a costume. Someone shared a great quote saying if the costume costs more than a book, stop, go out and buy another book instead and I think that’s so true. Now I admit in my house we have lots of costumes. I’ve always bought fancy dress sets for the kids and they’ve been given them as presents over the years. I mean to make more but it is hard to find the time. One thing is for sure, we love dressing up, but not everyone does and that’s fine too.
I think we all need to remember a few things. Firstly dressing up is optional. Secondly, there have so many different book characters in the world to choose from. Many characters dress normally so “own clothes” are fine to wear for many characters. Lots of characters go to school so uniform is fine! Many characters wear onesies or nightclothes. There are lots of animals in woodland stories, These can be easily created with a bit of facepaint/makeup or cardboard mask and an old pair of tights for the tail. It’s meant to be inexpensive and fun, never forget that.
Books Aren’t Just for Bedtime
I love the special events on World Book Day that encourage storytelling. This morning I went into Izzy’s class for “Big Booky Breakfast” and read her a couple of stories because books aren’t just for bedtime. This is going to continue every week (just as it has previously but stopped briefly during the transition to the new school base). It’s a great way to start the day and has so many emotional well-being and education benefits.
“The Biggest Book Show Tour” is taking place today in various locations including The Hafren in Newtown. Look out for events close to you and events taking place in local libraries.
Just Ten Minutes a Day
Many people feel guilty about finding it hard to find the time to read to their children every night. While I try and read to our kids every night, some nights it just doesn’t happen. This week we’ve had a difficult week with a family bereavement and then lots going on. Some nights we’ve had to prioritise a chat, a cuddle and straight to sleep over reading and that’s fine. Just do it when you can. Also it doesn’t have to be long. Ten minutes of story time is fine. I do get a bit overwhelmed sometimes as I have so many books from my childhood that I want the kids to read and of course new good books are coming out all the time. But, stop and just appreciate the words and books you do read.
It’s a good idea to carry a book around with you, I do this firstly so I get a chance to read my own book and secondly so if I find myself in the car while being Mum’s Taxi for the older kids, I can read to Izzy while we wait for them. Fit reading in when when you can and enjoy it. Other nights we dedicate a lot of time to reading as Izzy will read her book to me, then choose a couple of picture books. Caitlyn will want a couple of chapters of her book and Rebecca will keep asking me to continue reading too. We also have a couple of “dip in and out” books such as Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. We’ve reread this book a few times but it’s great to return to and so inspiring to read the real life stories of one hundred heroic women from Elizabeth I to Serena Williams. I wish this book had existed when I was a young girl!
Books for £1
Lastly, another thing we love about World Book Day is receiving our World Book Day Tokens. Thanks to National Book Tokens and lots of lovely book publishers and booksellers, World Book Day, in partnership with schools all over the country, will be distributing more than 15 million £1 World Book Day book tokens to children and young people (that’s almost one for every child/young person under 18 in the UK and Ireland). It’s so exciting to swap this for one of the World Book Day £1 books or to put towards a more expensive book.
The World Book Day campaign in Wales is coordinated by the Welsh Books Council and supported by the Welsh Government and Waterstones. Every year, with a host of publishers and booksellers, World Book Day curates a list of bespoke £1 books for children and young people across the UK and Ireland. World Book Day’s mission is to encourage children and young people to explore the pleasures of books and reading by providing them with the opportunity to have a book of their own.
The Welsh Books Council was pleased to announce a few weeks ago that as part of the World Book Day celebrations, two special books for children have been published in Welsh and are on sale for only £1. The two Welsh language books being offered this year are Na, Nel! Un tro … by Aberystwyth-based author Meleri Wyn James, and Darllen gyda Cyw by Anni Llŷn, which follows the tales of popular S4C favourites Cyw and her friends.
This year the Welsh language titles will also be available for the first time in accessible braille, large print and audio versions, thanks to the support of the RNIB.
World Book Day is about celebrating books and reading, not forgetting the wonderful authors and illustrators who make reading possible.
How will you celebrate World Book Day?