• Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

Spotlight: World Book Day

ByNaomi Wallace

Mar 10, 2023
A black and white image of children reading

I always loved World Book Day. My primary school encouraged us to dress as our favourite literary characters and used the day to celebrate reading. Even when I reached secondary school, the English department made a commendable effort to foster enthusiasm for the day; I distinctly remember the year that they all dressed as characters from the Harry Potter series. World Book Day is a wonderful concept, and in today’s world of iPads, YouTube, and television, it is more important than ever that we instil the joy of reading in children.

World Book Day is a charity that aims to promote a love of reading and allow all children to access books, no matter their background. This is achieved thanks to National Book Tokens, given out to all children who can then use them to buy books for no more than £1. Over 2 million of these books were printed in 2022, and 1 in 5 children receiving free school meals said that their World Book Day book was the first they owned.

There is a mountain of evidence to show that reading greatly improves a child’s prospects. Reading regularly has been shown to improve vocabulary, empathy skills, and exam performance. Unfortunately, fewer and fewer children seem to be reading for pleasure. I am infinitely grateful to my parents, both teachers, for raising me with an ingrained love of reading, but not all children are as fortunate. According to the National Literacy Trust, only 3 in 10 children aged 8-18 in 2022 said they read daily, a depressingly low figure. Efforts to reengage children with reading need to extend beyond World Book Day.

World Book Day is certainly a good start, but encouraging reading in children must be a continual process. Wider advertisement of free library services is vital to ensure that reading is accessible to all children, no matter their economic background. I would argue that the lack of use of these services does not stem from a lack of interest, but an unawareness that they are available. Schools and teachers also play a vital role: it is no use to celebrate World Book Day once a year and then neglect the celebration of reading the rest of the time. Wouldn’t it be incredible if World Book Day were solely an opportunity to dress up, as an enthusiastic love for books was just another daily aspect of school life? I do not doubt that many schools make the utmost effort to promote this, but to truly achieve this requires strategic initiatives and comprehensive funding from the government.

Reading every day is one of the best things for a child’s emotional and intellectual development, and it is a shame that the number of children who do so is decreasing. I am hopeful, however, that schemes like World Book Day can be developed further to eventually form a regular part of the school routine. I would also call for a greater appeal to parents to dedicate time at home to read with children, particularly in their early years. Reigniting the love for reading in children requires a universal effort from parents, schools, and the government alike. I hope to see a future where all children love to read, and I think this is possible with the dedicated efforts of everyone responsible for the younger generations. One day, I hope that every day can be World Book Day.

Image Credit: “Children reading c.1960 ‘Celebrating World Book Day’” by Archives New Zealand is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

By Naomi Wallace

Welfare Officer