Hermione Granger and The Wimpy Kid left my house to go to school today. No, this wasn’t some weird pre-caffeine early morning hallucination, it was my children dressing up as their favourite book characters for World Book Day.
All across the country, thousands of school kids will trudge into school with an extra spring in their step. Children all over the UK are allowed to dress up as their favourite characters for World Book Day, which leaves parents tearing their hair out in a desperate search for suitable outfits. The real winners are fancy dress retailers and publishers. World Book day has become Halloween Part 2.
Apart from a few parental logistical grumbles emanating from East-West towers as we desperately scrambled around our fancy dress box for a suitable outfit, overall, World Book Day is a good thing. Anything that raises awareness of the power of the written word should be praised.
World Book Day is a day of global celebration of authors, illustrators, books and of reading. It is designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and marked in over 100 countries all over the world.
Luckily, my two children have a love of reading. It is not difficult to understand why. Authors such as JK Rowling, David Walliams and Julia Donaldson have create a new golden era for children’s literature. They are inspiring a whole generation of children to read on their own free will rather than under duress from parental diktats.
The benefits of children developing an early love of reading are pretty obvious – it improves their wordpower, imagination, interpretative skills and gives them an inquisitive mind. Reading gives kids an interest in wider hinterlands. It gives kids an opinion. It makes kids smart. Reading can change lives.
Children who read for pleasure are likely to do significantly better at school than their peers, according to recent research from the Institute of Education (IOE). The IOE study, found that children who read for pleasure made more progress in maths, vocabulary and spelling between the ages of 10 and 16 than those who rarely read.
So, apart from a small amount of parental hassle to find a fancy dress outfit, World Book Day is a day to be celebrated. It celebrates one of the most important gifts that can be given to a child – a lifelong love of reading.