We’ve just celebrated the 19th World Book Day (WBD), this year on Thursday 3rd March which is different from International World Book and Copyright Day, organised by UNESCO, on April 23rd each year. I vaguely remember WBD occurring on Shakespeare’s birthday but then it moved. And I’m still not really sure what the difference is between “World” and “International” although the “world” in this case refers to the UK and Ireland!
WBD is the celebration of authors, illustrators, books and reading, and thousands of children, teenagers, young and older adults took part. Whilst a lot of this happened in bookshops, much of this was done in school libraries - where would these organisations and their initiatives be without school librarians? And what are they going to do when all the school librarians are gone?It’s great fun reading about all the activities that were organised, seeing the photos and reading tweets, you really do get that sense of excitement and enjoyment that comes from being part of a much larger event. Some people were extremely inventive creating book character costumes and I’m sure there must have been quite a few parents tearing their hair out trying to think of what to do. I also wonder how many “Elsas” turned up? I guess if you wanted to argue the point you could say that there are now books available telling the story of the film.
What amazes me is the range of events and activities that were held. Some of these involved the whole school with staff and students alike dressing up, everyone taking part in book-related activities, events running throughout the day - in fact some schools have even turned World Book Day into a Book Week – others, however, kept it low-key with a competition and the distribution of World Book Day vouchers.
I don’t think it matters what you do; one of the things I say to people is that you have to take into account your own circumstances when planning and organising anything but seeing whole schools taking part in WBD can leave you feeling a little bit flat and left out if all you’ve managed to do is get a dozen or so students doing your quiz.It’s important to remember that for any event to be successful it needs all parties involved to get behind it. This basically means the Senior Management Team (SMT) and rest of the staff. It’s no good trying to organise a “guess who’s reading” competition if your staff aren’t interested in joining in. It’s also difficult to create a whole-school WBD event if it clashes with something else in the school calendar and yes, this happens. I find that so many people live in their own bubble and don’t think to check what else is happening when they arrange things. You organise an author talk for a whole-year group, months in advance, book it on every school calendar possible and send out numerous emails then find, two days before, another department are planning to involve half the year group in something else. Sometimes there are already long-standing events that happen each year and you just have to accept that your WBD plans are going to have to take a back seat.
The other aspect of all this is that it takes a lot of planning and effort to organise a WBD involving the whole school and not everyone has the time to do this.So … don’t stress about not being “as good” as others or get disillusioned because nobody else in school seems interested. It’s not a competition; we can only do the best we can within our own situations. It’s important to remember that small things can make a big impact – especially if your school doesn’t have a reading ethos.
And there’s always next year …