On the day which would have been Dr Seuss’s birthday, it seems very fitting that this is the day we are celebrating World Book Day. I love World Book Day. I can say that as someone who isn’t a parent with the stress of having to put together yet another last minute Harry Potter or Gruffalo costume. I say it as someone who loves books (clearly) and reading and someone who was fortunate enough to be brought up by parents who read books, who read books to me, and encouraged me to read my own books.
World Book Day is about encouraging children to read and enjoy books and to have lots of fun whilst doing so. Schools, the length and breadth of the country celebrated World Book Day today in numerous imaginative ways. If my various social media feeds are anything to go by, the kids have been loving it. There have been some fabulous pictures of children dressed as Paddington, Tin Tin, The Cat in the Hat and so many more. Children dressed up as characters from books, not characters from films or TV, although I appreciate there is often a cross over, but from actual books. Each of those children have been smiling or posing or both and clearly having a great time. World Book Day normalises books, it makes them fun and things to be excited by.
I grew up in a house where it was normal to have books around, to buy books and be given books as presents. I know that for many children this wasn’t and still isn’t the case. Not all children own books. World Book Day aims to change that by giving over 15 million school age children a voucher to buy one of the 2017 World Book Day chosen books for just £1. Books by David Walliams, Enid Blyton, Jacqueline Wilson, Julia Donaldson and many other popular children’s authors are included. This in itself is fabulous. Giving a child the means to buy a book of their own choosing may just be the beginning of developing that child’s love of books.
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t enjoy reading. Reading and books have been equally a source of joy and solace throughout my whole life, and it started from when I was very small. I have never been without books, and to this day I feel that I have something missing if I don’t have a book with me wherever I go. This stems from discovering the joy of reading at an early age. I know that I was fortunate, reading came naturally, and was never something I struggled with. I was annoyingly always the narrator in the school plays, because I was good at reading. (and probably because I was very bad at acting). Reading was just what I did and what I have always done. I truly believe a child who discovers the joy of books and reading will never be a bored child. There are so many wonderful adventures to be immersed in, characters to make friends with and imaginary places to travel to. I love seeing my nieces and nephews and friends children reading books, and love it even more when they share those books with me!
I’ve been thinking a lot today about those books that took me through my childhood and into adolescence. Topsy and Tim featured heavily in the early years and these along with Dr Seuss were the books I headed straight for when the mobile library came to our village. I haven’t read Topsy and Tim for many years but I can easily recall those books. I loved fairy stories, Hans Christian Anderson was always a favourite and large hard back books full of fairly stories that I read and re-read were always strewn around my bedroom. Paddington, The Mister Men, Winnie The Pooh and so many more. I completely adored anything by Enid Blyton and still have a collection of favourites such as The Magic Faraway Tree and Amelia Jane. I lived every adventure the Famous Five ever had, convinced it was only a matter of time before I too was involved in similar scrapes and heroic escapades. Sue Barton was my first insight into nursing a profession I had no idea would become my own, Little Women was (and still is) wonderful and eventually I fell in love with Anne of Green Gables and the gorgeous Gilbert.
Even as I write this I can feel that same fizz of excitement I had as a child when I think of all these and so many more books which were part of my childhood. Reading has given me so much pleasure, books enrich my life daily and for that reason alone I will wholeheartedly celebrate everything about World Book Day, even if I didn’t dress up…..there’s always next year may.