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.

Welcome to my blog

In this blog, I will:

  • Introduce myself
  • Give you my entire life history
  • Let you know what you can expect to read on here
What I would look like if I were eight years old and owned a cat

Welcome to my first blog!

I’m going to give you a little background information about me before we start.

Reading

My first love is fiction.  When I was younger, my passion was solely for novels but, as I have grown older, I have discovered the joys of non-fiction. 

I suspect that both of these things will make an appearance in this blog.  I will be talking about books I have read and loved.  I will not be talking about books I haven’t liked, so don’t be surprised that all my reviews are positive.  If I read it and didn’t like it, it goes to the charity shop and I don’t mention it again.

Fantasy

Although I have quite an eclectic taste in fiction, I always come back to Fantasy. 

There are lots of reasons I love it.  Mostly, Fantasy books are just cool, aren’t they?

I am particularly interested in world-building.  I’ll discuss that at more length later but, to me, world-building is about the connection between the environment, the social systems and the characters, and how they affect each other.

I will definitely be mentioning Fantasy fiction here and analysing some of my favourite books, films and TV shows.

Writing

My professional career has revolved around reading and writing.

I currently work as a Copy Writer for a local company.  Anything they want written, I write.  It sounds simple.  Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t.

Teaching

Before I worked as a Copy Writer, I was an English Teacher in a Secondary School.  It was a job I enjoyed in many ways and I’m certainly glad I did it.

One of the reasons I became a teacher – and, ironically, one of the reasons I left teaching – is that I care about children’s education.  That might pop up on this blog a few times, too.  I will try to keep my anger to a minimum.

My history of teaching means that I have an interest in Children’s Fiction (both Middle Grade and Young Adult).  I used to get to call it ‘work’ but now I just have to confess I love it.

Hobbies

It’s difficult to say what a hobby is.  Is talking to friends a hobby?  Is going to the cinema a hobby?  I will talk about these things as they arise and as I try new hobbies.

I love trying new things, particularly creative things and crafts.  I have recently learned how to crochet and am still making my first blanket.  I suspect I will be stuck at the first stage (making lots of little squares) for a long time but, no matter, I am enjoying it.  If ever you want a square crocheted very, very slowly, let me know.

Things I am interested in (which therefore might end up on this blog):

  • Fantasy fiction (books, films and television)
  • Gender equality
  • How to write well (and to audience)
  • Representation in fiction (including classism, ageism, racism and ableism)
  • World-building for fiction
  • Weird stuff you learn about in history
  • Education
  • Any new hobby I pick up along the way

Let me know what you think

If any of this sounds up your street, let me know!

I’d love to get in touch with more people who want to read fiction, write Fantasy and put the world to rights.

You can follow me on Twitter @AlisonJanetBro1.  Say hi and let me know what you’re up to.

See you on Wednesday

I hope you’ll come back and read my next post, where I’ll be talking about World Book Day and why it’s fabulous.  I’ll also give you a really easy lesson to get your class talking about books.