The first week of March brings the day which is important to all who love books and happily tuck themselves into any nook or cranny to read a story – World Book Day.
In more normal times children are encouraged to go to school dressed up as their favourite character, and I hope this week’s online lessons are attended by any number of Matildas, Paddingtons, Tracey Beakers, Harry Potters and, my favourite, Noggin the Nogs.
For those children who live in homes where books are cherished and reading is encouraged, the lockdown has been a glorious time to savour the excitement of new stories. But for those who find reading a chore, who cannot afford to buy books and cannot even go to the library due to lockdown, COVID-19 has widened the economic and educational gap.
World Book Day helps to tackle book poverty and encourages all children to read for pleasure. This year, it is more important than ever, especially as we know the transformational power of reading for children. According to the OECD, reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator of a child’s future success, more than family circumstances, parents’ educational background or income.
World Book Day tries to tackle this inequity with the distribution of free £1 book tokens to as many children as possible. Research carried out for World Book Day in 2019 found 1 in 7 children (3 in 10 children receiving free school meals) said that the book they ‘bought’ with their World Book Day book token was their first book of their own.
World Book Day changes lives through a love of books and shared reading. This means encouraging families and children to read, especially those from disadvantaged and low income backgrounds. In addition, we want to ensure as many families as possible know about the £1 World Book Day books and how children can get one for FREE with their £1 book token. In 2019,
I’d be interested to hear about your favourite book, both now and from your childhood – if you, or a young person in your household would like to get in touch with the title and author, and even a drawing of your favourite character, I’d love to hear from you. You can find contact details on my website at www.alexburghart.org.uk