World Book Day: Reading is the key to all learning

Rows of books are piled up with a plant pot out of focus in the background

Thursday 4th of March marks World Book Day 2021 - Credit: Getty Images

World Book Day. Three words that strike fear into the heart of any Primary-school parent.

Also known as ‘Dressing-up-in-your-favourite-book-character-costume Day’ for children under 11 or ‘How-the-hell-can-I-make-a-costume-for-THAT-character Day’ for parents.

I have to say I’m one of those people that loves an opportunity to dress up; sadly, mine are now too old for the costumes but the love of books and storytelling never ages.

Schools always go the extra mile for World Book Day to really celebrate reading which is exactly what World Book Day is about, whether that’s Primaries encouraging costumes or our fabulous Exmouth Community College arranging author visits thanks to superb librarian, Lou Burrows.

Started in 1995 by UNESCO the World Book Day celebration was intended to reposition reading as ‘fun, relevant, accessible, exciting, and [with] the power to transform lives’.

Now marked in over 100 countries around the globe, World Book Day is supported by authors, illustrators, publishers, bookshops and libraries.

Each year in the UK school children are given a special book token, distributed through schools, which can be exchanged at no cost for one of the special edition books created for World Book Day or can be used for £1 off the cost of any other book.

We are very lucky here in East Devon to have a world class literary festival on our doorstep.

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There will be three author events free to access for all children, families and schools posted online on the 4th March: Rob Biddulph the illustrator will be encouraging viewers to draw along with him, Sophy Henn will be talking about her new book ‘Pizazz’ and author Sita Brahmachari – author of one of the World Book Day books will be sharing ‘When Secrets set Sail’.

These three events are aimed at primary age children and further details can be found on the www.budlitfest.org.uk website.

In addition, there is also a spring weekend of author talks for the grown-ups across 13th and 14th March- tickets for these events need to be booked- details again on the festival website.

As someone who believes that reading is the key to all learning, I can’t stress how important a celebration like World Book Day is.

It’s a sad fact that many children still grow up not owning a single book and figures from the WBD charity confirm that as many as ‘1 in 3 of children in receipt of free school meals, said the book they ‘bought’ with their WBD book token was the first book they had of their own’. In these times of educational inequality exacerbated by the pandemic, we should be doing all we can to ensure access to books for all children- particularly with libraries not operating as usual. So despite still working from home/home-schooling, we should make 4th March a day to celebrate stories- costumes optional!

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