Celebrating 20 Years of World Book Day!

“No matter how much a child might say they hate reading,” author Jacqueline Wilson says in anticipation of this year’s World Book Day, “there’ll be a book somewhere that they’ll love”. Although the annual event is still months away, Wilson and many authors – including Julia Donaldson, David Walliams, and illustrator Lydia Monks – are already banding together to scheme up new stories and debut titles to share with young readers. The authors are brewing up something special this year, and hoping their creative pursuits will not be in vain: their target this year? To give away one million books.


Last year, 789,783 books were given away (image courtesy of Dorset Echo)

World Book Day was established in the UK twenty years ago as a campaign to curb waning reading numbers and declining writing standards. Since then, it has grown into a large scale event that rallies authors, children, schools and libraries to sanction off a single day where getting books into young readers’ hands is top priority. Each year, books are given away for a single euro, or free with a token kids can get free of charge from their schools. Each giveaway is intended to be gifted with founder Gail Rebuck’s sounding message, “that reading is fun, relevant, accessible, exciting and has the power to transform lives.”

What new stories can you expect this year? Wilson will release Butterfly Beach, a continuation on the tale of ‘Butterfly Club’ best friends Selma and Tina. Ladybird is said to publish a new Peppa Pig title, Peppa Loves World Book Day. Donaldson and Monks will debut the next Princess Mirror-Belle title. Claire Freedman and Ben Cort have Everyone Loves Underpants well underway. Where’s Wally, by Martin Hanford will make its debut. Comedian, David Walliams, is expected to provide some comedic relief with his still unnamed title, and stories by Enid Blyton, Francesca Simon, Michael Grant and David Almond will be premiere as showcased reads as well.

Walliams with his book, ‘Gangsta Granny’ (image courtesy of Guardian)

The event is ultimately about increasing access to books, encouraging writing, and giving back to young readers. “What better way to do this,” program director Kristen Grant tells the Guardian, “than offering them stories from the best writing and illustrating talent being published in the UK and Ireland today?”   

Featured image courtesy of West Hill.