On 4th March 2021, World Book Day was held, just like everything else, this year it was very different. With events adapted online as most bookstores are still closed for business. World Book Day sends a powerful and positive message about books and reading in particular for children and even more so in lockdown, when reading is a powerful tool for all ages to cope with the stress, isolation and boredom. This year, authors talked about what World Book Day means to them, and how storytelling can be more important than ever in challenging times like these.
I read a lot, I have since childhood, it was through my grandfather that I came to have a love of reading. But as a family, we have always encouraged bedtime stories and bought books as gifts. Children follow the example of their parents and families, so if they see someone reading, they want to try it too. I owe my sanity in Lockdown to the written word, as the chance to escape to a different world and to learn something different. Life-long learning is essential to all of us, in keeping our brain cells active and staying interested.
The mission of World Book Day is to promote reading for pleasure, by offering every child and young person the opportunity to have a book of their own. Reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator of a child’s future success, more than their family circumstances, their parents’ educational background or their income. Changing lives through a love of books and reading, it aims to see more children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, with a life-long habit of reading and the improved life chances this brings them.
Designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading World Book Day is marked in over 100 countries around the globe.
Thousands of bookshops and supermarkets took part in World Book Day. This charity brought together the UK’s leading reading and educational charities: Book Trust, CLPE, National Literacy Trust, and The Reading Agency, children’s publisher Egmont and Nielsen Books, in a collaboration providing insights into the impact of the last year’s Lockdown on reading and the improvement to a child’s life chances. Together, they found that many children and parents embraced reading at the beginning of the pandemic, with huge benefits for their wellbeing and development. (Although this was to decrease slightly as the pandemic continued)
The research found that many children embraced reading at the beginning of the pandemic. The majority looked on-line for reading inspiration on YouTube and with social media. Books have provided a valuable resource to support children’s wellbeing. Young people reported that it helped them relax and made them feel happy. 82% of Teachers found ways of reading aloud to their classes during the pandemic because it provided an emotional support as well as developing literacy skills.
The latest research for the National Literacy Trust shows the positive impact World Book Day has had during the pandemic in 2020. With 3 in 5 primary children saying that they had read more books as a result. Over half had talked more about books with family and friends. A third had also read more books with their family. One surprising fact was that 3 in 10 of the children receiving a World Book Day token in 2020 said it was the first book they ever had of their own. So, it’s wonderful that they get to own a book which is something they can treasure.
Thanks to National Book Tokens and lots of lovely book publishers and booksellers, World Book Day, in partnership with schools all over the country, distribute over 15 million £1/€1.50 World Book Day book tokens to children and young people (that’s almost one for every child/young person under 18 in the UK and Ireland) every year on World Book Day.
During the pandemic, access to books remains a serious issue, particularly amongst disadvantaged children and families. Despite many schools implementing quarantine schemes and delivery services, 40% of primary-level children were unable to take books home. However, many local libraries have offered online free books and audio books, although a tablet or android phone is necessary. Libraries have been using mobile units to deliver books to the sick and elderly. Also, in the second and third lockdowns some library offered collection services, a bit like click and collect. I am a big fan of the work local libraries do for the community at large and we should all try to continue to support them. In part so they are able to carry on offering us a service.
A selection of free audiobooks for all ages is available from the World Book Day website as well as a full range of reading and learning resources for the rest of the year. Visit the website for details https://www.worldbookday.com/
Libby is the local library app and free online library cards are available if you don’t have a card, just visit your local library website for details.
I do hope you get chance to read a little, either a physical, kindle or audio book, I am sure you will enjoy it!