World Book Day looks to broaden reach in 2014

World Book Day looks to broaden reach in 2014

While primary schools are the “sweet spot” for World Book Day, this year’s programme will run a comprehensive range of events for ages from toddlers to teens, director Kirsten Grant has promised.

Grant said 2014 was the first year since she had been running WBD that it felt “fully integrated”, with something on offer for everyone.

For nursery children, WBD has worked with Ladybird to launch the Big Little Book Corner, an online series of animated nursery rhymes with accompanying songs and downloadable activities.

And on the day itself, WBD is hoping nursery schools take part in the Big Little Rhyme Along. “Family groups and Bookstart centres all do rhyme-time activities. We are giving them activities that reinforce how important rhyme is,” said Grant.

One of the goals of WBD is to keep teenagers reading, and this year it is offering two YA titles: Rock War by Robert Muchamore (Hodder Children’s Books) and The Boy in the Smoke by Maureen Johnson (Hot Key Books). “Teenagers have always been there, it’s just trying to work out the best way of reaching them,” said Grant.

WBD has dropped the app that was first launched in 2012 in favour of a dedicated YA page soon to launch on its website with new titles and book extracts. It also organised an online poll, Writes of Passage, which asked teens as well as adults to vote for their favourite teen novels. The top 50 books, chosen from 7,500 nominations, will be announced on WBD itself.

Teens may also get involved with the World Book Day festival, which Grant described as a “big celebration of books and reading”. Launching this year, the festival will be compèred by Laura Dockrill, who will host five separate events—in London, Glasgow, Newcastle, Blackburn and Cardiff.

However, the ambition is to extend the celebrations under the festival umbrella. “Obviously it’s about the 10 World Book Day authors, but I also want to give other people a bite of the pie, so we’ve got 25 authors performing for us in these five locations.”

Other initiatives for 2014 include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tokens, in association with the Roald Dahl estate, which will give users the chance to win one of five VIP trips to see the “Charlie” musical in London, and an updated Storycraft project. Schools can also now download an assembly plan, with ideas about how to celebrate WBD, then share their own thoughts on the WBD website.

And this year, the team has split its Biggest Book Show on Earth event into two parts; a streamed event and a pre-recorded show, entitled “So You Want to be a Writer”, hosted by Dick and Dom. “By doing it like that people can watch it when it suits them,” said Grant. “We found that, say, 11 a.m. on the 6th March didn’t necessarily suit everyone. It’s something that can be fitted into their day.”

According to Grant, digital content will be hugely important to WBD this year, despite the loss of the app. “Over the years we’ve really developed the website so it’s the absolute hub of everything we do, whether it’s streaming events or getting people to vote—they all drive traffic to the website.” WorldBookDay.com had over a million visits in 2013, up 40% on the year before, she said.

The team is also making a push on social media enabling fans to engage with writers directly.