Wednesday, 11 March 2015

World Book Day and Beyond! by Edge author Dave Cousins.

Books are important—they teach us empathy, make us think and question, help us navigate our way through life—they’re also a lot of fun, which is why I'm a big supporter of World Book Day.

Last week on the roads and railways, you could hardly move for authors, illustrators, poets and storytellers on their way to schools for World Book Day events—David Walliams even took to the air to avoid the congestion! 

My own World Book Day tour started on Monday with a 5am start. Seven days and nineteen presentations to over 1500 young people later, I'll admit I’m a wee bit tired and my voice is a little more croaky than usual, but it was worth it.


Some wonderful displays in the library at Montsaye Academy!
(Thanks to Lisa Shaw)

With schools being increasingly forced to focus on exam results and league tables, I worry that reading for pleasure will be marginalised, despite the important role it plays in a young person's development. The perilous state of our library service, both public and in schools, is a worrying indication of the low value attributed to books by those currently in power. In this climate, World Book Day feels like a festival of defiance—an excited, noisy, costumed parade—a demonstration of just how important stories are. Visiting schools this week, seeing the work staff have put into World Book Day celebrations and the enthusiasm of the students, proves that not everything of value can be tested and entered onto a balance sheet. 

But don’t take my word for it, here are a few photos and some feedback about World Book Day that I received from staff and students at the schools I visited:

Acting out a story at Bishop Stopford School
(photo: Hilary Sutton)

“Seeing 200 faces rapt, involved and amused … was a joy. Introducing them to new books in such a lively manner will undoubtedly lead to more reading enjoyment.” —Hilary Sutton, Librarian, Bishop Stopford School

“I’m so excited I could burst!” — Year 7 student, Bishop Stopford School (I have to admit, that one is my favourite!)

Discussing comics and graphic novels with students at Parmiter's School
(Thanks to Angus for the photo)

“World Book Day is an incredibly important time for school libraries, as it's the perfect opportunity to promote everything that's great about books and reading for pleasure. At Parmiter's we embrace it wholeheartedly by putting on a week's worth of activities for all year groups. From author talks and signings to books sales and competitions, the world is your oyster! We look forward to planning something new every year.” — Nicola Davison, LRC Assistant, Parmiter’s School

Developing ideas during a writing workshop at Skinners' Academy
(Thanks to Skinners' Academy for the photo)

"They were so inspired that we sold out of books and have had to buy many more copies for the library." —Susannah Phillips, Librarian, Skinners’ Academy

I would like to thank all of the staff and students at Holloway School, Parmiter's School, Bishop Stopford School, Skinners’ Academy, Littleover Community School, Ashcroft Academy and Montsaye Academy for their hospitality, enthusiasm and inspiration! Thanks also to booksellers Brenda and Terrie, with help from Zoe and Mia at Parmiter's, and Stuart Cleaver from Quinn's Bookshop at Montsaye. 





Finally, if you haven't already done so, please check out the World Book Day Teen Fest website which has loads of exclusive author videos, playlists and blog posts to keep the festival going!

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Dave Cousins is the author of a number of award-winning books for children and young adults. Visit www.davecousins.net for more information. 

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