We have just transitioned through half term here in the UK, a time filled with duality.
- Positives (happy smiley face) No School Run! and heaps of relaxing time with my daughter.
- Negatives (worried face) I absolutely and categorically cannot get one single piece of work done.
During the aforementioned time warp, I began pondering the next school event looming on the horizon, World Book Day is on 2nd March in the UK. Just days away.
As a children’s’ author I love World Book Day, I really do. I love the fact that for one whole day kids in every school will be talking about books, reading them and even dressing up as their favourite characters.
I cannot even begin to imagine the honour that a child pays to the author when one of their characters is chosen. An actual imaginary being brought to life, not on a page but running around a school playground, manifesting what was once just an idea rattling around an author’s head.
The sheer joy of the possibility that one day, a child will choose one of mine in a genuine high for me… as an author, no greater compliment, sheer unadulterated joy! This definitely needs adding to my Goals for 2017!
The dreaded costume
Like all Mums, I am desperately scratching my head and asking my best friend Google for ‘costume ideas for World Book Day’. I have a black marker, left over Christmas glitter (although I will only bring out the glitter if all else fails – just like the Christmas tree it lives on forever in hidden corners), bits of fabric from goodness knows where, some dried up glue, an assortment of abandoned old dressing up clothes and not a lot else.
Last year, it was Alice in Wonderland (not because she had read the book but it had just been released at the cinema) I promise that I explained to my precious child that the purpose of World Book Day is to celebrate books. She quite rightly pointed out that it was indeed a book before it was a movie. Good point, well made. I cheated and invited my second best friend ‘Amazon’ over for a cup of tea and together we found the perfect costume.
This year, as I hunt through her current reads I’m eternally grateful to JK Rowling, Jill Murphy and Chris Riddell. She will either be Hermione, Mildred Hubble or Ottoline. They all wear a school uniform – sorted!!! I’m sure I can even make a graduation cap and cloak out of thin air if she prefers Hermione Granger.
Worth the Hassle?
As I find myself in the enviable position of pretty much having World Book Day costume sewn up (pun intended) I started to ponder the origins and purpose of World Book Day and this is what I discovered.
- World Book Day, officially ‘World Book and Copyright Day’, is April 23rd, and organised by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) to promote reading all over the world.
- In the UK & Ireland we celebrate ‘World Book Day’ on the first Thursday of March, our date was changed because it clashed with Easter holidays and St Georges Day. We hold a World Book Night on 23rd April to honour UNESCO’s international date and ‘Shakespeare Day’ because he died on 23rd April 1616.
- Although we’ve had a World Book Day since 1995, it was conceived in 1923 in Spain to honour Miguel De Cervantes, author of Don Quixote. He died on 22nd April 1616, the day before our very own Shakespeare. An interesting little footnote – we used a Julian calendar back then and Spain used the new Gregorian calendar. We switched in 1752 with USA & Canada, so they actually died on different dates but the same day – confused? I was!
- Over 100 countries participate on 23rd April although I can’t find a list (Yes – I looked!). Instead, I discovered that countries such as USA, Australia, Japan, Korea, Spain, France, Russia, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Netherlands and Hungary volunteered to host Pop-Up Fairs to raise money for UNESCO’s South Sudan Literacy Project.
- It’s a fundraising Event on a global scale, raising money for books in underdeveloped countries. This fact alone gets my vote. I spent three years in South Africa so know the value of a book for kids there. It means the world to them.
- Each child in the UK from tots to teens receives £1 book token. These tokens are sponsored and paid for by contributing publishers, National Book Tokens limited and participating retailers.
- Book tokens are sent to schools for the children to redeem in selected bookstores. WH Smith, Waterstones and all major supermarkets will take the voucher. The children can either buy one of 10 ‘World Book Day Books’ priced at £1 each or use their voucher for £1 off a book they fancy.
- Our World Book Day on 2nd March is NOT a government initiative. It’s sponsored and paid for by the world of books.
- UNESCO and the United Nations have teamed up to award a World Book Capital City status. On 23rd April 2016, it was Wroclaw in Poland. In 2017, this award will be given to Conakry in Guinea. They will host a full year of literary programme to honour the title.
- Our schools donate the money they receive on the day, for each glorious ‘costume’ to a book related charity.
Having concluded my worthwhile research, I’ll keep fingers and toes crossed that my daughter doesn’t veer away from the fabulous idea of a uniform costume. However, if the little darling decides to give her mum a run for her money, I’ll chat to my best friend Google and check out this site, it’s the official website and has some great ideas:
If you are a teensy weensy curious about the World Book and Copyright Day on 23rd April, here is a link to their website
… and here is a link for the information on the ILAB (International League of Antiquarian Booksellers) Pop-Up Book Fairs occurring world-wide on 23rd April. It currently has all the information on 2016, however, I imagine it will be updated very soon!
Hope you enjoyed my little rabbit hole diversion and now I must return to the mighty pen as my next book is still warbling around in my head.
Happy World Book Day
(P.S To fellow mother – If all else fails with costume ideas, invite every Mum’s bestest friends Google and Amazon over for a cuppa – sooner rather than later as they get extremely busy next week)