Book Aid International has teamed up with 20 stars of the children’s book world to celebrate the 20th anniversary of World Book Day (WBD).
The charity began releasing a new reason to promote children’s books on social media on 3rd February and is continuing every working day until WBD on 2nd March. Book Aid International hopes the celebrations will draw more attention to the value of children’s literature as well as the need for children’s books in the communities where the charity works. The rest of the campaign will feature additional laureates, authors and publishers and a blog will be updated daily on the charity’s website. The project is running alongside the organisation’s WBD celebrations such as school children donating £1 to dress up as their favourite book character. (It costs the charity £2 to send a new book to a library or school in Africa).
The campaign began with former children’s laureate Malorie Blackman who discussed expanding children’s imaginations. The bestselling author of Noughts & Crosses (Corgi), said: “Children’s books entertain, illuminate, excite and educate but perhaps most importantly they stimulate our children’s imaginations. [They] are a space and a place where each reader sets their own parameters, yet simultaneously reading nurtures and encourages the imaginations of our children to grow and flourish. Children books demonstrate that limits could and should be bounded by the imagination alone.”
Prize-winning author Penelope Lively revealed how she saw books as an extension of experience. She said: “When a child reads a book a whole new experience is opened up. Reading allows a child to step beyond its own circumstances and enter other worlds, the imaginations of other people. Fact or fiction, books are an extension of experience, for children, for anyone.”
Writer and illustrator Cressida Cowell shared her enthusiasm for the project on Monday (13th February). The author of the How to Train Your Dragon series said: “On World Book Day, I want to celebrate what children’s books can do for you. They can bring you closer as a family, as you enjoy something together. They can help develop not only reading skills, but critical thinking and empathy. They can spark your own creativity.”
The sponsor of WBD, National Book Tokens, said children’s books are important because “nothing else takes bookworms on such magical, extraordinary and exciting adventures”. The company is also teaming up with WBD to run a children’s illustration competition which closes on 14th April.
Book Aid International’s head of fundraising Hannah Watson said: “Last year, schools across the country raised enough to send 60,000 books to African readers who lack books in their homes, schools and communities. Those books have the potential to be life-changing, particularly for children who may never have even seen a children’s book before. We are so pleased to include prominent voices from the world of children’s literature in our World Book Day celebrations this year and draw attention to the huge value that children’s books bring.”