For incurable book lovers, it’s like all their birthdays coming at once. For busy, experienced teachers, it can seem like a game of staffroom Russian Roulette (while dressed in a costume of your favourite book character).
It’s the moment when the headteacher or the literacy coordinator pops the question, “Who wants to organise World Book Day this year?”
Whether you are the sort of person to jump up and down with your hand in the air squealing, “Pick me!” or whether you were the last to slip further down in your chair, you will want to do the best for your school and especially the children.
However, planning a successful World Book Day can seem like a daunting prospect. Luckily, we have plenty of World Book Day ideas to help inspire you (none of which involve a fancy dress costume).
What is World Book Day?
First things first, World Book Day is a charity “on a mission to help change children’s lives by making reading together and reading for pleasure a habit for life,” according to their website.
Apparently, the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) has found that reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator of success in life.
That means it’s a better predictor than family circumstances, educational background or income. So, it’s a pretty aspirational idea with serious implications for social mobility.
When is World Book Day?
Traditionally, in the UK and Ireland at least, it is in early March. The next one will be on Thursday 4 March 2021. That gives you plenty of time to get ready. Sort of. After all, what your school gets out of it depends a great deal on what you put in.
World Book Day ideas for schools – make it an event
For many schools, the first thing on the to-do list is to get parents thinking about preparing a World Book Day costume for their child. While you might have mixed feelings about this – especially when the outfits only have the most tenuous links to published works – it is undoubtedly a good way to secure engagement.
With any luck, you will get some truly impressive costumes too. Just make sure you find a way to celebrate these and let the other pupils know which books they are paying homage to. You never know, someone might be inspired to go out and read them!
Get each kid reading
However you organise your day, never lose sight of the whole purpose of it – to get children reading. Therefore, you should try to pack your schedule with activities that focus on reading rather than dressing-up.
Run a book week, share your favourite children’s book or favourite story and have children discuss their favourite character in literature, whether it’s The Gruffalo, Fantastic Mr Fox, Pippi Longstocking, Mr Stink, The Worst Witch or the Very Hungry Caterpillar.
In case your mind has gone blank, fear not – we have a wide range of World Book Day resources to inspire you and make your life easier.
Write book reviews
Have you noticed how adults can recommend things until they are blue in the face yet the factor that really seals the deal is a personal testimonial from one of their peers? That makes World Book Day the perfect vehicle for launching a drive on book reviews.
If you get your pupils to write book reviews and display them, they will soon be reading what each other has to say. If they can see that their friends are rating books highly, there is a good chance that they will want to read them too.
Of course, you want the reviews themselves to look exciting, which is why we have created some attractive book review templates for you to use for Key Stage 1, Lower Key Stage 2 and Upper Key Stage 2.
As an added bonus, the same resource pack includes “Fantastic Reads!” bookmarks on which pupils can write mini recommendations. These can then be slipped into the books before returning them to the class collection or school library as a very visible attention grabber.
School author visit
The Holy Grail for any World Book Day celebration is, of course, the author visit. As you might imagine, however, there will be thousands of schools all clamouring for the same big names.
That’s no reason to give up on the idea altogether, though. We have compiled a collection of lively podcasts from published children’s authors designed to be used in primary schools.
As well as containing the words, tips and ideas of the writers themselves, these resources include teacher notes, PowerPoints, planning grids, writing sheets and display items.
World Book Day activities
But there is so much more you could do with your World Book Day celebrations. For a wealth of ideas covering the whole school, look no further than our free World Book Day activities pack.
This extensive compendium of inspiration includes fully planned lessons for years 1/2, 3/4 and 5/6. There are story world book lists and book-chat prompts. There are lucky dip cards and a character quiz activity sheet.
And, for a really immersive experience, why not try our Story Express event resources or even our Travel-by-book agency role play activities?
World Book Day activity ideas – help yourself
As you can see, there is plenty of scope to make as much or as little of the day as you like. The best thing is that, with a little help from us, you will have everything you need to lay on a truly memorable event, if you so wish.
What’s more, we’ve done most of the work for you, which means you will have more time to relax on the weekends leading up to it. Who knows, you might even have time to lose yourself in a good book.