Yesterday we celebrated World Book Day in school and enjoyed a visit from C J Daugherty. If you Google ‘World Book Day’ you would be forgiven for thinking that it’s simply another version of Halloween, so much is the focus on dressing-up and guilt-inducing pitches at parents for the perfect WBD costume. It is actually meant to be an opportunity for everyone to join together in appreciation of the life-long pleasure of reading. Established by UNESCO, it celebrates authors, illustrators, books and reading in over 100 countries around the world.
Every year in the UK, 15 million book tokens are dispatched to young people, one for nearly every child aged under eighteen.
I’ve written often about the benefits of reading for pleasure. It’s been established that it helps develops emotional intelligence – when we follow along with our favourite characters in a story, we develop skills for learning how to perceive and mirror the way they’re feeling. It obviously can improve your vocabulary and grammar skills. According to the National Reading Campaign, reading from a book also helps you build spatial awareness, as you become cognisant of where you are in the story on linear and temporal lines. It even leads to greater progress in maths, according to a study by Dr Alice Sullivan.
As CJ Daugherty told us in assembly, the act of reading can be, and often is, a transformative one. We tell young people this and encourage them to read in school and at home and via initiatives such as World Book Day and our own BHHS Book Week. However, the motivation to read really needs to come from within. As Oscar Wilde said, “It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”