Research revealed on World Book Day (WBD) suggests that a quarter of eight to 11-year-olds would not own a book without the initiative.
The National Literary Trust’s survey of more than 9,000 pupils has shown that nine out of 10 (89.5%) were aware of the event and that almost 60% were inspired to read more because of it. One in four children (25.2%) said that the first book they had ever bought was with the WBD token issued last year and for pupils receiving free school meals, this increases to almost a third (32.9%). The reading charity's research also revealed that six in 10 Key Stage Two pupils (58.6%) took part in a WBD activity last year.
Kirsten Grant, WBD director, said: “We’re extremely proud of how deep and wide the impact of World Book Day continues to be in the lives of children and young people all over the UK and Ireland, particularly in light of the recent news that one in ten people don’t own a single book [poll carried out by Censuswide Research on behalf of Aviva last year]. Evidence suggests that there is a lost generation of readers amongst today’s adults, but we truly hope and firmly believe that, through giving children and young people greater access to books, World Book Day is ensuring that the next generation carry a love of reading with them on into adulthood. Reading isn’t just about literacy skills and attainment levels either – it’s about creativity, imagination and empathy, it opens up whole new universes and changes the way we see and think about the world. Unlocking those worlds and empowering children to make choices about what they want to read, enabling them to own their own books and inspiring them to be regular visitors to their local bookshop and library is the beginning of a lifetime of pleasure.”
Pupils from Saint Rose of Lima School in Glasgow celebrate World Book Day
WBD was founded in the UK by Baroness Gail Rebuck, who is also chair of Penguin Random House UK and founder of charity Quick Reads. She said: “In 1997 the level of children’s engagement with reading was at a point of national crisis. The previous year a government report had been released showing that 42% of 11-year-olds failed to achieve level 4 in reading and writing on entry to secondary school. We wanted to do something to reposition reading and our message is the same today as it was then – that reading is fun, relevant, accessible, exciting, and has the power to transform lives. I’ve seen first-hand how World Book Day has affected social change and long may it continue.”
The event enables increased book ownership amongst children by distributing £1 World Book Day book tokens via schools and nurseries all over the country. The tokens, supplied by sponsor National Book Tokens Ltd, can be exchanged for one of 10 specially-published £1 WBD books. David Walliams’ offering, Blob (HarperCollins Children’s) landed straight in the UK Official Top 50 number one spot, it was revealed this week. Fellow WBD author Francesca Simon described the tokens as a “passport” and described to the Guardian how she was inspired to take part after a child in a bookshop asked her “are we allowed to touch the books?”
This year WBD is also working with all 13 prisons in the Greater London Area, supplying books to inmates’ children. David Kendall, the reading engagement specialist leading the prisons initiative, said: “Sharing a book with a parent can be hugely important to a child’s experience of reading, and it’s something that children with a parent in the criminal justice system have less opportunity to do. Being able to work with World Book Day to ensure books are available to children and parents on World Book Day is fantastic, as it will help all families to feel included and show that reading is for everyone.”