World Book Day 2020

In this blog, I will:

  • Tell you why I love World Book Day
  • Give you an inspired lesson idea (if I do say so myself)
  • Start a radical movement to get World Book Day introduced to every working office environment

As you may know, on Thursday 5th March, it’s World Book Day.

I know that because I was a teacher, and an English teacher at that.  It’s one of the highlights of the year in schools.  I’m going to tell you why I love it and then I’m going to ask: why is it only a thing in schools?

Why I love World Book Day

It was great when the pupils would come into school dressed as their favourite character and I got to guess who they were.  Then they’d tell me all about the character and the book (whether I already knew or not).  I loved it.

And the fun activities I could do with my classes on World Book Day?  I made it my personal mission to make sure my pupils enjoyed World Book Day lessons, no matter what was on the curriculum (but don’t tell my head of department that).

For me, the point of the day was to enthuse pupils about reading.  That doesn’t mean force them to read, and it certainly doesn’t mean changing what they read.  It means reminding them why they love books.

A great classroom activity for World Book Day

Teachers, please steal this idea if you like it.

It’s an incredibly easy, planning-light lesson.

One of the most effective activities I did on World Book Day was to split the class into groups and send them round the classroom on a carousel.  At each station there was a sheet of sugar paper and pens, and each one had a different question on it:

  • Who is your favourite hero from a book?
  • Who is your favourite villain from a book?
  • Which book would you most like to live in?
  • What’s the first book you remember reading?
  • What’s your favourite children’s book?

It was so interesting to see the pupils consider these questions.

Firstly, I wasn’t asking them to do any ‘real work’ so they thought they were having a skive lesson.  It’s amazing how much work they got done!

Secondly, it got them talking about books.  It got them arguing about books.  New groups would reach the next sugar paper and shout, “That’s such a good choice, I’d forgotten about that one,” or, “That’s not the best one, this is the best one.”

Thirdly, it reminded them that books were there to enjoy.  None of the questions were ‘teacher’ questions.  I wasn’t asking them to analyse the books, I didn’t want them to write PEE paragraphs, I wasn’t asking them to justify themselves and I wasn’t judging their choices.  I was simply asking their opinion.

It’s important to note that I was also asking what they used to like as opposed to what they do like now.  By putting it in the past, I took away some of the social pressure – from me and other pupils – to choose appropriate books.

My favourite station to eavesdrop at was ‘what’s your favourite children’s book?’ because they began to reminisce about all the books they’d read as children.  I found it both fascinating and hilarious.  I feel I need to point out that these were Year 8s (so they were 12-13 years old) and they were talking about ‘when they were children’ and books they loved ‘back in the day’.

These questions seemed to them to be just fun questions to ask but they are the basis for a lot of English Literature analysis and certainly for good writing.  What qualities make a good hero?  How can you write a convincing villain?  What are the important elements of world-building?  All questions that authors ask throughout their career.

It was a fun lesson, it enthused the pupils about reading again, and it formed the basis for discussion later in the term.  It was a win.

Where did World Book Day go?

When I left teaching and ended up in an office, suddenly it was ‘weird’ to dress up for World Book Day.  Why are adults so boring?  What’s wrong with coming in to work to find a Winnie the Witch or a Hagrid sat at the desk?  Seems like a good way to start the day to me, saying, “Morning, Alex, great costume.  Don’t tell me, let me guess…”

I can see why it wouldn’t be appropriate for every office (“Morning, Doctor- I mean Katniss?”) and, if you work outside doing construction or gardening or in a zoo, then it might not be the best idea.

But a bit of book-talk at work would make my day.  I think we should bring World Book Day back for adults.

Let me know what you think

If you’re thinking, “Yeah, why can’t I dress up as Dracula to go to work?  It’s literary,” then let me know in the comments section below.

You can follow me on Twitter @AlisonJanetBro1.  Say hello and let me know who you’d dress up as if you were given the opportunity.

See you next week

I hope you enjoyed this post.  Please come back and read next week’s post about how to get children to read ‘more advanced’ books aka. Stop Book-Shaming Children.

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