World Book Day is 25 this year, and as more schools have adopted this festival, the first Thursday in March has become known for school streets being full of kids dressed as everything from Harry Potter and Supertato to the Gruffalo and Where’s Wally.
Hook salutes World Book Day because reading is a superpower! It lets kids occupy different worlds and feeds their imaginations, as well as offering a range of tangible benefits – from improved results at school, to a broader vocabulary, increased general knowledge and a better understanding of other cultures.
World Book Day counteracts book poverty by giving a book voucher to every kid.
World Book Day is effective for younger primary kids because it gives books a role beyond the page making them seem fun, and relevant to their lives through: dressing up; author visits and a range of activities relevant to location and school. World Book Day counteracts book poverty by giving a book voucher to every kid, opening up book ownership to kids, whatever their background.
However, love of books and reading is likely to drop in secondary school kids, especially amongst boys. On Instagram, author Matt Haig highlighted the disparity between boys and girls asking ‘Why do boys stop reading? … At age 11, most boys enjoy reading. By age 14, that drops from 65% to 32%’.
These figures are supported by the NLT’s 2022 Annual Literary Survey their 70,403 responses showed that passion for reading decreased with age. Drop off was especially evident amongst boys, and kids from lower socio-economic groups. This isn’t necessarily because of a lack of desire to read – 9 in 10 (87.9%) said they would be happy to get a book as a present.
Books offer immersion in a way that no other medium can.
Given the popularity of World Book Day, the positive influence reading has on the development of young minds, and the sustained appeal books have for older kids (even if they are not reading) what can be done to make reading a lifelong passion?
Hook’s work with young audiences as well as specific projects with publishers has shown us some things to consider in future.
First, young audiences have incredibly rich media lives with lots of competition for their free time. Where can the written word tap into existing passions, and the medium of books feel like a vibrant ‘platform’ for kids. Top TV show, and even computer games are based on writing and the written word – how can that excitement be harnessed?
Second, books need to keep experimenting and keep growing – this isn’t about redacting Roald Dahl’s books – it’s about giving a platform to new young writers whose work reflects the lives of the readers that they’re appealing to – from new imprints like Stormzy’s Merky books, to powerful inclusive graphic novels like Heartstopper that help kids understand the world around through positivity and brilliant character arcs!
Hook speaks to amazing teachers and kids every week, and we know that nothing improves them and gives them solace as much as the power of stories; and books offer immersion in a way that no other medium can.