−−− BY LINZI DAVIES −−−
World Book Day this year takes place on the 7th March. A registered charity which is on a mission to give every child and young person a book of their own, the day is also a celebration of authors, illustrators, books and of course – reading! In this month’s feature we look at everything World Book Day involves, plus a selection of popular children’s books that your kids (and you!) will love reading.
HOW DID IT ALL START?
Valencian writer Vicente Clavel Andrés wanted to honour the author Miguel de Cervantes (Don Quixote) by celebrating reading. He initially chose the 7th October, Cervantes’ birthday but then changed to the 23rd April – the anniversary of his death. In 1995, UNESCO decided that World Book Day should officially be celebrated on the 23rd April as this was also the anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death. Interestingly, Shakespeare and Cervantes died on the same date 23rd April 1616, but not the same day – at the time Spain were using the Gregorian calendar and England the Julian calendar. Because of this, Shakespeare’s death was actually ten days after Cervantes.
Although the date was picked to honour England’s most famous author, it was changed in the UK to avoid clashes with both St George’s Day and the Easter school holidays. It is therefore held on the first Thursday of March here. This year marks the 22nd World Book Day in the UK.
WHAT HAPPENS ON
WORLD BOOK DAY?
Schools in the UK receive packs of book tokens and World Book Day (WBD) resource packs relevant from early years to secondary education. The book tokens have a value of £1 which can be exchanged for one of 10 (expanded to 12 this year) exclusive WBD Books completely free, or £1 off any book or audio book costing over £2.99 at any participating bookshop. The free exclusive books are available in a wide range of shops including supermarkets, which enables every child regardless of their circumstances to access a book of their own and discover a love of reading. The £1 books this year include some of the most popular children’s characters and authors including Lego, Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson, and a new character from the much-loved Charlie and Lola author Lauren Child. There is something for children of every age and reading ability.
In addition to the book tokens, World Book Day features fun, activities and events to bring stories to life. Many schools invite pupils and staff to dress up as their favourite book character, and to take along the book to compare the likeness! Attending school on World Book Day may be Harry Potter, Where’s Wally, Willy Wonka, or even the Little Mermaid! Teachers may take off their daily disguise to reveal their superhero costumes underneath – who knew that Supergirl was teaching Reception class, or Batman was in charge of Year 4? Or perhaps, an Alien Who Loves Underpants has been masquerading as the headteacher all this time! Books are diverse, and so are the characters in them, so there are endless creative options when it comes to making your World Book Day costume.
Using the resource packs provided, school children spend the day celebrating reading through different activities and lessons, older pupils might buddy up with the younger ones to share a book together, reading dens may be built under classroom tables – imagination is the limit!
Share a Story
This year, World Book Day is encouraging parents and carers to ‘Share a Story.’ Through reading stories together on the day itself, the charity is hoping to get the message across that spending just 10 minutes a day, every day, reading and sharing stories with children and young people has a huge impact on their future. Evidence suggests that children who read for enjoyment every day perform better in reading tests, develop a broader vocabulary and a better understanding of other cultures. Studies even suggest that a love of reading is more likely to determine whether a child does well at school than their social or economic background.
From breakfast to bedtime, in the park, on the bus or train, anywhere is possible to pick up a book and enjoy it together, creating a little pocket of quality bonding time too. Children have an incredible imagination and books can open a whole new world for them.
As Walt Disney said, “There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.”
A love of reading really is one of life’s greatest gifts, providing learning as well as enhancing well-being. To further increase the fun of reading together, there is a game that can be played online or downloaded from the World Book Day website, called Are You A Share A Story Reading Star?
Popular writers and illustrators will be bringing books to life with the Share A Story Live tour, visiting four locations across the UK, and here in Yorkshire they will be arriving at the University of Bradford on the 7th March where pupils from local schools will enjoy the show. Onjali Q. Raúf, author of The Boy at the Back of the Class is one of the writers hoping to inspire young people on the tour. She said “I feel incredibly honoured to be a part of the Share A Story Live events this year: to have the chance to meet fellow booklovers and readers is one of the best, most beautiful sides to becoming an author imaginable. So, roll on World Book Day 2019.”
If you are looking for inspiration on which books you and your child may enjoy, we have put together a selection of some of the most popular titles for each age group.
Books for 0-5 years
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen
This year, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt celebrates its 30th anniversary! It is just as popular today as it was upon its release three decades ago, as the repetitive, musical text lends itself to being read aloud. Children love to join in with the words and actions as the story follows a father and his family as they go out in search of a bear, negotiating a variety of terrains from squelchy mud, swishy swashy grass and even a snowstorm.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
This much-loved classic is full of bright and imaginative illustrations with cut out details which follows the progress of a caterpillar as it eats its way through the week. Highly popular with pre-school children, it not only engages their attention with the story and colourful pictures, but helps them to learn about number, time and days of the week.
Each Peach Pear Plum by Allan Ahlberg
Another classic, this book’s rhyming text encourages the reader to ‘spy’ familiar fairy-tale or nursery rhyme characters. Beautifully illustrated, each page contains hidden details in the pictures which children love to spot, keeping them as captivated as the story does!
I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child
The first picture book of the greatly popular brother and sister duo Charlie and Lola sees Charlie cleverly trick his younger sister – a very fussy eater, into eating all her least favourite foods. Carrots become ‘orange twiglets from Jupiter’ and mashed potato is ‘cloud fluff’ amongst others. The childlike imagination running through the story, along with the bold and bright illustration and text, makes it great fun to share.
Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers
Beautiful illustrations combine with a poignant storyline which resonates with young readers, making Lost and Found a popular book. The story follows a boy who sets off to find the home of a lost and lonely penguin who appeared on his doorstep. The theme of loneliness overcome by friendship saw the book win several awards and it has also been turned into a BAFTA-winning animation.
Books for 6-8-yearS
Horrid Henry by Francesca Simon
Horrid Henry is a modern-day rogue, much like Dennis the Menace. He is horrid to his family, in particular his little brother Perfect Peter, and the first Horrid Henry book comprises of four stories which are long enough to entertain an early reader and short enough to enjoy as a really funny read together.
The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton
This classic story by the queen of children’s stories Enid Blyton was first published in 1939 and is still a delight to read now. When three children move into a new home, they discover that the mysterious wood on their new doorstep is enchanted and home to the Faraway Tree. They meet lots of strange new friends including Moonface and Saucepan Man, and embark on lots of exciting adventures. A fun and magic read!
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
The character in this book Greg is a normal, if not a little nerdy American kid who is constantly trying to boost his popularity through various hair-brained ideas such as bodybuilding and cartooning, with less than impressive results. His diary charting a year of his life, complete with hilarious cartoons is really funny for both children and their parents.
Mister Magnolia by Quentin Blake
This is a whimsical nonsense rhyme in picture book format which is a treat to read aloud together. Quentin Blake’s colourful illustrations add to the fun of the story in which Mr Magnolia has many things, such as an old trumpet that goes rooty-toot, some very fat owls learning to hoot and a big purple dinosaur who’s a magnificent brute!
The Sheep-Pig by Dick King Smith
One of Dick King-Smith’s best loved stories, The Sheep-Pig is full of humour and the short chapters make it an easy challenge for early confident readers. The story tells of Farmer Hogget’s sheep-dog Fly adopting new piglet Babe, who then wants to follow in his ‘mum’s’ footsteps and herd sheep. Babe overcomes his physical restrictions by politely asking the sheep to go where he needs them.
Books for 9-11 years
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
The first Harry Potter story broke records and began an absolute phenomenon in children’s literature. This contemporary classic is beloved by both adults and children alike. This first instalment sees Harry leave his miserable life with his horrible aunt and uncle to embark on an exciting new one at Hogwart’s School of Wizardry and Witchcraft.
Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo
Michael Morpurgo uses his superb storytelling skills to bring to life the horrors of World War I to modern day children, in a way which will move them whilst remaining sensitive to young minds. Private Peaceful charts eight hours in the life of Tommo, a young soldier at the Front as he reminisces about events of his childhood, his family and friends.
Matilda by Roald Dahl
Matilda is one of Roald Dahl’s best loved stories which is full of magic and mischief. The inspiring young heroine pits her strength, courage and intelligence against the nasty, spiteful and narrow minded (some might say thick!) adults in her life including her cruel parents and bully headmistress Miss Trunchbull.
The Story of Tracy Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson
Both funny and touching, The Story of Tracy Beaker is told as a series of diary entries illustrated with doodles and drawings. Ten-year old Tracy lives in a children’s home and dreams that her mum will come and take her away. Funny and imaginative, Tracy can also be a bit angry and impulsive.
Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian
This classic wartime story is a deeply moving tale which children will love even today. Willie Beech is evacuated to a tiny village in the countryside at the outbreak of WWII. He finds his new home is with gruff widower Thomas Oakley, but the pair gradually develop a strong bond which cannot be broken.
Books for 12-14-yearS
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
This funny and touching novel is an award winning must read for adults and children alike. Told through character Christopher, a maths genius and Sherlock Holmes fan who also has Asperger’s syndrome, the story begins with the discovery of a murdered dog on his neighbour’s lawn. Christopher sets out to discover the identity of the killer which throws his ordered world into chaos.
Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve
Set in the future, this story is a blend of action, romance, mystery, crime and horror, packed full of colourful characters which challenges readers to re-examine their preconceptions. Young hero Tom is thrown off the city of London – which trawls the world on wheels eating smaller towns– by his childhood hero. He joins forces with the mysterious Hester on a whirlwind adventure.
Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman
This thought-provoking exploration of the futility of prejudice is a true contemporary classic for teens. In this novel the population is split into two – the white Noughts are second-class citizens and the black Crosses are highly revered as the superior race. The story focuses on the relationship between 15yr old Callum, a Nought and his best friend Sephy, a Cross and daughter of one of the most influential politicians in the country.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Colins
This bestselling book set a trend for dystopian novels for young adults. The compelling story of survival challenges ideas about society, control and freedom, following character Katniss through a forcibly selected terrifying reality TV game show in which contestants must fight to the death.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
A story of life, death and coming of age, The Graveyard Book is full of humour and surprise. Character Bod is brought up by ghosts in a graveyard after his family are killed. Sometimes Bod leaves the graveyard to enter the world of the living but here his life is under threat from sinister Jack who has pursued him since he was a baby.