In thinking about this week’s blog it seems the natural thing to do is to explore the benefit of books. However I wrote about that recently – well the power of stories – and I feel it would be wrong to repeat myself so soon. So instead I thought that another appropriate idea would be to actually investigate World Book Day and consider its origins and impact.
Here goes! Did you know that the idea for World Book Day has been nicked from a tradition which has been going since 23rd April 1923 in Catalonia? This was to celebrate the life of their local hero and best selling author Miguel de Cervantes who wrote Don Quixote. In Catalonia there began a tradition of celebrating books and gifting them to each other in memory of Cervantes. Fast forward 72 years to 1995 and the first official World Book Day took place. It has since been designated by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) as a world wide celebration of books.
There is a link with World Book Day to Cervantes’ Don Quixote. Don Quixote is a man who has romantic ideas about chivalry but is delusional. His attempts to be a hero do not come to anything as he chased unrealistic dreams with no base in reality - hence the phrase ‘tilting at windmills’.
With regard to World Book Day there is a poignancy as the purpose of World Book Day is to get all children across the world to embrace books to read, enjoy and to learn so serving to fulfil the educational commitment set out in the 1989 UN Convention on The Rights of the Child. Is this ‘tilting at windmills?’ Let’s look at the impact.
Lifted straight from the World Book Day website...
Research found that children who participate in World Book Day activities are more engaged in reading and books than those who don’t.
- Nearly 3 in 5 felt that they read more books
- Nearly half say they buy more books
- Over 2 in 5 borrow and share more books
- A third also read more with their parents due to taking part in World Book Day, with half of those believing they subsequently read more independently (The National Literacy Trust’s Annual Literacy Survey, 2019)
- 1 in 4 pupils (25.2%) say that the book they ‘bought’ with their 2016 World Book Day book token was their first book of their own.
- Amongst children receiving free school meals, this number increased to 3 in 10 (32.9%; National Literacy Trust, 2017)
- Lower income families are likely to discover books through World Book Day (Nielsen, 2018)
So there you have it! World Book Day does not ‘tilt at windmills’. It is celebrated in 100 countries and the day clearly bears fruit. This is not to say that it has changed the lives of every single child in the world but for just 23 years of service it’s pretty awesome.