Today (April 23, 2018) is World Book Day 2018! So – Happy World Book Day to you and yours! Did you know today is World Book Day? I wouldn’t have either, except that I came across a little blurb in some semi-spam email last week. I was delighted to see such a day even existed! As an avid reader and advocate of reading in general, I decided I’d look into this and give you my take on it.
All About World Book Day 1
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO ) created the World Book Day event in 1995. Its purpose was to “pay a world-wide tribute to books and authors on this date, encouraging everyone, and in particular young people, to discover the pleasure of reading and gain a renewed respect for the irreplaceable contributions of those, who have furthered the social and cultural progress of humanity.”2
They chose an annual date of April 23rd because it already had some literary history. Valencian writer Vicente Clavel Andrés used this date to honor Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes, who died on that day in 1616. If you’re unfamiliar with the work of Cervantes, think Don Quixote. Nicknamed El príncipe de los ingenios (“The Prince of Wits”), some considered Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra to be the greatest writer in the Spanish language, as well as one of the world’s most distinguished novelists.
In researching this, I found it interesting that Cervantes and William Shakespeare (I know you’ve heard of him) died on the same date – April 23, 1616, but not on the same day! If you’re confused or intrigued by that, read about the date selection on Wikipedia.
Although the day of April 23rd may have Spanish origins, I get the distinct impression that World Book Day is more of a British thing. I found lots and lots of World Book Day information on UK sites, but next to nothing on US sites (or anywhere else, for that matter). Personally, I find that easy to believe, but disturbingly so.
World Book Day – British Style
Over there, across the big pond, the Brits really make a day of it for their children. From what I’ve read, each child receives a £1 book token in school, which they use to redeem some small paperbacks or put towards a full price book.
School children, as well as teachers and library staff, are also highly encouraged to dress up as their favourite (hey, this is a British paragraph) book characters. Some of the top costumes include Harry Potter, Winnie-the-Pooh, and The Cat in the Hat. There is even a registered charity (World Book Day Ltd) dedicated to the event in the UK.3
Some British parents aren’t too crazy about World Book Day; some even consider it to be more like parental homework. Recently, parents have ranted on social media about the woes of World Book Day. The costs of costumes have become so hefty that some primary schools told parents not to dress up their children. Other primaries tried to reduce the burden on parents by telling them to send their children to school in pajamas or onesies, creating a “bedtime story” theme.4
The Brits also celebrate World Book Day on a different date than the rest of world. They use the first Thursday in March.5 They do this to mesh with religious holidays, school terms and other charitable activities.6 Thus, in 2018, they celebrated World Book Day on March 1st.
I may not be a British parent, and costume competitions aside, I still think anything that helps kids to get enthusiastic about reading is a good thing.
Clueless Gent’s Take on World Book Day 2018
The one thing I really like about World Book Day is its aim at young people. If I could change one thing in the world, it would be that all children grew up with a love of reading fiction. In my book (pun intended), that’s a win-win thingy. Society, as a whole, would gain more empathy. Parents would no longer go into debt to satisfy their children’s wants. (Have you compared the price of a gaming system to a paperback recently?). I’ll even go out on a limb and predict there would be less crime – particularly violent crime – if people grew up with a love of reading fiction. I know World Book Day is not specifically about fiction, but I feel there’s an underlying push in that general direction.
I have a whole soapbox in my garage dedicated to the benefits of reading daily. But don’t worry, I don’t plan to climb back on it right now. However, I do think the Brits do it better than we do when it comes to World Book Day.
If you have a young child in your home, why not read them a story on World Book Day? Actually, why not read them a story every day? That’s one way we can foster a love of reading in our young. Spending more quality time with your child is likely not a bad thing either. I’m not lecturing here – I save my soapbox for that; I’m just providing some encouragement.
What are you doing on World Book Day 2018?
- Technically, World Book and Copyright Day
- “World Book and Copyright Day 23 April.” United Nations, United Nations, www.un.org/en/events/bookday.
- Madge, Sophie. “When Is World Book Day 2018 and Why Do We Celebrate It?” Kentlive, Kent Live, 24 Feb. 2018, www.kentlive.news/whats-on/family-kids/when-world-book-day-thursday-1146784.
- https://Eleanor Busby Education Correspondent. “World Book Day 2018: Parents Told Not to Dress Children up Due to High Expense.” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 1 Mar. 2018, www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/world-book-day-2018-dress-up-costumes-outfits-primary-schools-characters-a8235026.html.
- Gallagher, Sophie. “World Book Day 2018: When Is It And Why Does It Happen?” HuffPost UK, HuffPost UK, 9 Jan. 2018, www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/world-book-day-2018-what-is-it_uk_5a54e7d6e4b0efe47ebd3f74/#entry_paragraph_2.
- “Frequently Asked Questions.” World Book Day, World Book Day Ltd, www.worldbookday.com/faq/#question1.