A new monthly book club and greater outreach to public and school libraries are among the World Book Day plans for 2021, the charity’s c.e.o. has revealed at this year’s Bookseller Children’s Conference.
The conference also welcomed Sita Brahmachari, Katherine Rundell and Joseph Coelho, who are behind some of the WBD £1 titles next year.
Speaking at the online event, World Book Day c.e.o. Cassie Chadderton said: “World Book Day is recognised by a massive 95% of children across the country. Children look forward to it. We recently discovered it ranks alongside Christmas and Halloween as one of their favourite days of the year.”
Looking forward, the charity will focus on reaching those children who really need World Book Day and perhaps don’t have any books of their own. “One in seven pupils say their WBD book is the first book they have had of their own,” said Chadderton. “This increases to one in three for children receiving free school meals."
She added: “In last year the National Literacy Trust told us that 400,000 children don’t have a book of their own. There is a growing group of children we need to reach.”
The charity will hold the World Book Day Book Club every month throughout the year and children will be able to submit their questions to authors and illustrators about their books, the first of which will be High Rise Mystery (Knights Of) by Sharna Jackson. World Book Day will also host a "Share a Story Corner" on its website, providing reading content for families with younger readers, and work with public and school libraries to encourage children to engage with books. Other plans include working with the Diverse Book Awards and the Free Books Campaign, which works to get books to those who cannot access them, for free. All events will be online.
The other authors and illustrators behind the World Book Day 2021 books are: Julia Donaldson, Lydia Monks, Tom Fletcher, Greg Abbott, Fiona Lumbers, Jonny Duddle, Zanib Mian, Nasaya Mafaridik, Jess French, Aleesha Nandhra, Humza Arshad, Henry White, Aleksi Bitskoff, Alexandra Bellos, Ben Lyttleton, Derek Landy, Holly Jackson and Judi Curtin. Rob Biddulph is the official illustrator for the third year in a row.
Stephen Lotinga, c.e.o. of the Publishers Association and chair of World Book Day, said: “In the context of widening social and economic disparities, further exposed by Covid-19, it will be even more important for World Book Day to be a shared moment to encourage children to build the life-long habit of reading for pleasure, and to benefit from the improved life chances this brings them.
“Reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator of a child’s future success — more than their family circumstances, their parents’ educational background or their income.”
World Book Day claims it shared 2.5 million stories during World Book Day month in 2020. More than one million £1 books were gifted in the UK & Ireland in only five weeks, with 30.5 million £1 book tokens distributed overall, it said.
The 2021 WBD titles in full:
What the Ladybird Heard Play Book by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Lydia Monks (Macmillan Children’s Books)
There’s a Wolf in Your Book! by Tom Fletcher, illustrated by Greg Abbott (Puffin Books)
Luna Loves World Book Day by Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Fiona Lumbers (Andersen Press)
Gigantosaurus Dino-Spot by Jonny Duddle (Bonnier Books UK)
Planet Omar: Operation Kind by Zanib Mian, illustrated by Nasaya Mafaridik (Hachette Children’s Books)
Protect the Planet by Jess French, illustrated by Aleesha Nandhra (DK)
The River Whale by Sita Brahmachari (Hachette Children’s Books)
Skysteppers by Katherine Rundell (Bloomsbury)
Little Badman and the Radioactive Samosa by Humza Arshad and Henry White, illustrated by Aleksei Bitskoff (Puffin Books)
Football School: 20 Fantastic Football Stories by Alexander Bellos and Ben Lyttleton (Walker)
Skulduggery Pleasant: Apocalypse Kings by Derek Landy (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
Kill Joy by Holly Jackson (Egmont)
Lily and the Lissadell Ghost by Judi Curtin (The O’Brien Press)—Ireland only.