World Book Day 2024: Read Your Way

Your Arts sub eds reminisce on World Book Day and why this year's theme is still relevant in our later lives

Editorial Team
7th March 2024
Image Credit: Abby Tunstall and Laura Kasongo
UNESCO’s World Book Day has been taking young readers by storm since 1995. The day is celebrated by over 100 countries around the world and has been a statement day in the UK and Ireland since 1997. Their mission promotes reading for pleasure and encouraging young people to start their journey through the world of literature.

Creators of the mission state that reading for pleasure is the basis of a child’s future success, encouraging young students aside from any family circumstances, educational background, or parental income. As founder, Baroness Gail Rebuck recalls “we wanted to do something to reposition reading and our message is the same today as it was then – that reading is fun, relevant, accessible, exciting, and has the power to transform lives”

For us Arts sub-editors, who grew up in quintessential British Primary schools, World Book Day was a staple of the Spring term. World Book Day as younger students was filled with book activities, dressing up, fundraisers and the infamous National Book Tokens for a £1 book!

Most notably, it was the dressing up part that we loved the most. As a special treat for Arts readers, we have featured two pictures of us in costume – Sarah as Hermione Granger (left) and Laura as Cruella DeVille (right). Sarah’s choice makes sense but we’re not as sure with Laura’s… certainly nailed the eyebrows though. We both found it profoundly disheartening to learn that dressing up was suddenly ‘uncool’ by the time secondary school came along (Laura still decided Sherlock Holmes was appropriate in year 9) since that was where most of the magic about World Book Day came from. Resonating with a character, perhaps not one wishing to murder 101 dalmatians, is what made literature special and a world we could be a part of. We often wonder whether or not university students would want to dress up for it nowadays; whether or not sitting in lectures as ‘Where’s Wally?’ would be symbolic or just immature. Yet, albeit not a scientific correlation, both of us are studying English Literature at degree level so it does beg the question – how influential is World Book Day? 

This year’s theme for World Book Day 2024 is “Read Your Way”. Though inclined to younger students, strategies such as: setting time aside to read regularly, having a book accessible where you go, having a choice in what you read and receiving recommendations for books as a “strategy” seems fitting to us as students today. During university commitments, perhaps stripping back those reading strategies is how we should continue on. Capitalist constructs of 'Time' rarely, if at all, value reading for pleasure and as Anne Boyer once put it - "Reading - even literacy - can always be...a minor rebellion." We, of all students, get that this is easier said than done when your degree already keeps you occupied with pages upon pages but there's always some room for something light, even if its just before bed. If DEAR time still existed (Drop Everything And Read) we'd be willing to bet you'd get through at least one short novel a month outside of academic reading. To "Read Your Way" as an adult is to give yourself freedom to any book without judgement. You don't have to read Crime & Punishment to feel better about yourself or impress anyone (try Camus instead for a shorter existential crisis if that's your prerogative). Whether "your way" is Frankenstein or It Ends With Us (judgement free but arguably which is the bigger monster...) reading should be something enjoyable. An act to let your imagination loose and free that inner-child who's still willing to play dress-up for World Book Day.

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