Depending on where you sit on the creativity spectrum, World Book Day can strike anything ranging from joy to dread in parents and carers.
Dressing their young charges as a character from children’s fiction, which accompanies the annual celebration in many schools, has been known to send even the most ordered of beings into a blind panic.
Amid the carnage of face paint, electrical tape (no sewing required) and repurposed old clothes in the moments before a manic school run, it’s easy to forget the point.
But to do so would be a grave mistake indeed for World Book Day, taking place on March 5, is truly wondrous.
In the words of Greg James and Chris Smith, authors of Kid Normal and the Loudest Library: “World Book Day gets more books into the hands and brains of more kids - and for that reason alone it’s incredible.”
Their creation is among a collection of bespoke £1 books available for children and young people across the UK and Ireland.
To mark the day each year, children are welcomed into bookshops and supermarkets where they can redeem their World Book Day book token for a free World Book Day title or use it to get £1 off any book or audiobook of their choice, costing £2.99 or more.
It is hoped that providing children and young people with the opportunity to have a book of their own will encourage them to explore the pleasures of books and reading.
A quarter of five to 13-year-old pupils say that the book they ‘bought’ with their 2016 World Book Day book token was the first book they have had of their own.
The day also sees children bringing books to life through events and activities in schools, bookshops, libraries and at home.
Designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading and marked in more than 100 countries around the globe, World Book Day is dedicated to celebrating the benefits of reading for pleasure for everyone, everywhere – promoting the magic of books, the power of imagination and the importance of sharing stories.
“Books and stories are fundamentally important for kids,” said Matt Haig, author of Evie in the Jungle, one of this year’s titles. “They are drawn to them. The challenge is not to put them off reading as time goes by. If kids are given the impression that books are a duller, more earnestly worthy entertainment than video games and movies they will inevitably move away from them.
“Reading is not important because it helps you get good grades or a good job. Reading is important because it gives you room to exist beyond the reality you’re given. Reading is a joy. It is time-travel and adventure and a mind-altering substance. Reading for the sheer unadulterated pleasure of it has to always be the aim.”
Research shows that sharing stories together has long-lasting effects on a child’s future and being read to is critical in igniting enthusiasm for reading.
Reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator for success in life, more than family circumstances, educational background, or income.
Share a Story is the theme at the heart of a three-year World Book Day campaign, encouraging parents and carers to go beyond dressing up to read and share stories with their children for ten minutes every day.
It is hoped that World Book Day will inspire new reading habits, underlining just how important this shared time is.
People are being encouraged to Share A Million Stories for 2020 throughout World Book Day month (February 27 to March 29).
Anyone can take part in the campaign and start by registering at worldbookday.com/share-a-million-stories.
Sharing a story is being read to or reading with an adult, sibling, friend or even a pet. All reading (for a minimum of ten minutes) counts as a story share, from picture books to audiobooks to comics and graphic novels.
Story shares can be logged on the World Book Day website and its Share-o-meter will update to show the live total.
“The world would be such an awfully small place without books,” said Onjali Q. Raúf, author of The Day We Met the Queen. “Even with a million channels and distractions at our fingertips, there’s nothing quite like the feel and comfort of a book, or the excitement that comes with sharing a new literary adventure with loved ones.
“Whether it’s reading alone and getting lost in a new dimension all by ourselves, or reading out loud, or better yet, being read out loud to, nothing can beat the feeling of reading a brilliant book solely for pleasure. It’s a joy everyone deserves to share in, no matter how big or small we may be. The good news is, there are just about enough stories in the world to help us do just that!”
For more information visit worldbookday.com