Book-ing in time to read to youngsters for World Book Day

By Heather Large | Entertainment | Published:

Those passionate about page-turners explain why World Book Day is vital for our children.

World Book Day is Thursday

It’s the day loved by schoolchildren and dreaded by parents. World Book Day arrives on Thursday.

That means you have just a few days to sort out an outfit for your little one.

It might be an extra unwelcome hassle for parents already having to balance work with the school run, but the day has a purpose.

Every year our favourite stories, characters and authors are celebrated, and for children it’s a chance to inspire and encourage a life-long love of reading by helping them to discover the magic within the pages.

That is the theory anyway. World Book Day was first marked in the UK in 1997 amid concerns over reading and writing standards in schools. It has snowballed ever since with hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren getting involved with book-themed activities, fancy dress and reading sessions every year.

Today it’s the biggest celebration of its kind, designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and is marked in more than 100 countries.

But the main aim is to introduce children of all ages to the pleasures of books and reading by providing them with the opportunity to have a book of their own.

20 books every child should read before they are 16


  • We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen
  • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  • Winnie The Pooh by AA Milne
  • A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond
  • The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr
  • Funny Bones by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
  • The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
  • Charlie and The Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  • Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis
  • The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
  • Charlotte’s Web by EB White
  • The Railway Children by E Nesbit
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling
  • Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
  • The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

Latest research shows that the number of eight-to-18 year-olds reading for pleasure has now dropped to 52.5 per cent, from 58.8 per cent in 2016, and only a quarter now read daily, compared with 43 per cent in 2015.

With the help of National Book Tokens Ltd, publishers and booksellers, around 15 million book tokens will be sent to children and young people up and down the country.

They can take their token to a bookshop and use it to pick one of 10 exclusive, new and completely free books.


Pupils can also use their token to get £1 off any book or audio book costing over £2.99 at a participating bookshop or book club. A list of books available through the token scheme include the likes of Bing by Ted Dewan, Amelia Fang and the Bookworm Gang by Laura Ellen Anderson, Dog Man by Dav Pilkey and Evie in the Jungle by Matt Haig.

There is also Kid Normal and the Loudest Library by Chris Smith and Greg James, Alex Rider Undercover: The Classified Files by Anthony Horowitz, The Case of the Drowned Pearl by Robin Stevens and My Awesome Guide to Getting Good at Stuff by Matthew Syed.


As well as providing children with a new book, the charity also encourages them to create inexpensive props and costumes of their literary idols and wear them to school.

The theme of this year’s campaign is Share A Million Stories and World Book Day, supported by National Literacy Trust is calling on everyone to share stories for 10 minutes a day in schools, libraries, bookshops and at home.

Book lovers across the region have shared their thoughts on why they are getting behind the celebratory event. For example, stories have always been part of best-selling author’s Miranda Dickinson’s life.

The writer, who lives in Dudley and has sold one million books worldwide, said: “I am a huge fan of World Book Day. I believe giving children the gift of reading – and, crucially, the gift of choice of what they read – is vitally important.

“Books give readers an insight into other worlds and experiences, help us empathise with others and give us a place to make sense of our own lives. World Book Day is a celebration of the magic of reading and a chance for children to discover the wonder of books for themselves.”

Sarah Fountain, a children’s book designer, author and illustrator from Oswestry, said: “World Book Day is really important because it reminds us why reading for pleasure is so great and it reminds us to think about our favourite characters and stories.

“My favourite stories have influenced decisions I have made in my grown-up life. Our favourite stories and characters stay with us forever. For me, reading for pleasure is about finding other people in other worlds that you never knew existed and they then become a part of your world.”


Ginny Lunn is the managing director at Coram Beanstalk, which provides volunteers to read with schoolchildren across the Midlands.

She said: “Books are at the heart of what we do, delivering vital reading programmes to children who need extra one-to-one help with their reading. World Book Day is a particularly exciting and inclusive way to celebrate books and bring to life the magic of the story through fun, book-based activities.

“Books have the power to transport us beyond the page, encouraging us to discover the world around us and opening our minds up to new possibilities.

“However, it also brings to light even more how empty a world without books can be and if a child falls behind with their reading and doesn’t have access to books and regular reading time with an adult, it can affect all aspects of their life and limit opportunities.

“It’s so important that all children get dedicated reading time with an adult on a regular basis – those who don’t get that opportunity really do miss out, not just on improving their reading ability, but on the fun of reading together, the conversations and the bonding time.”

Heather Large

By Heather Large
Special projects reporter - @HeatherL_star

Senior reporter and part of the Express & Star special projects team specialising in education and human interest features.


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