World Book Day started in 1998 in the UK and I remember it as if it was yesterday. In reality, I was just being given a bit of paper to swap for a small novel in my local bookshop, but to 8-year-old me, this was my Charlie Bucket moment: I loved nothing more than reading and here I was on your average school day being given a golden ticket that I could swap for a TOTALLY FREE book. In 2000, instead of a special WBD anthology, you could choose a book! Coming from a low-income family, new books were an absolute luxury and I savoured the choice of a WBD token. I loved the feel and smell of a new book, trying not to break the spine as I read it because I just wanted to keep it perfect that little bit longer (a habit I still have to this day). These vouchers changed my view on writing forever and allowed me to discover Michael Morpurgo, Malorie Blackman and Meg Cabot.
It is because of that feeling that I’m such a fan of World Book Day. The scheme gives away 15 million vouchers every year. Take a second to mull that over: every single year (as a collective of teachers) we are giving 15 million children the chance to explore new words and worlds in the 2 minutes it takes to hand these vouchers out. The impact of this could be huge: you could get students to write reviews, start a class swap shop or do blind dates with the books. If you’re in a remote area, as a teacher you can liaise with local bookshops to get the books delivered to school.
I know that on social media I’ll see lots of my primary colleagues dressed up as favourite fictional characters but as a secondary teacher, we tend to avoid the dressing up element of the day. However, the WBD website is a mine of printables that you can use to engage even your trickiest 13-year olds. There’s packs of materials on there for nursery, primary and secondary schools, making it easy for teachers up and down the country to get involved. I love WBD and use it as a tool to discuss what books I love and why. Rarely do we get to talk about books for books sake (without the GCSE set text doom cloud hanging above our heads) and it opens up a lovely dialogue where you might just learn a little about your students that you didn’t know before.
How are you going to celebrate World Book Day in your school?