This month's blog is written by Kirsten Grant, Director of World Book Day, which this year took place on Thursday 7 March. In the immediate aftermath, she shares her thoughts with us.
Five things I have learnt about working on World Book Day
1. Creativity Rules
When we organise promotions like World Book Day, we depend on huge numbers of amazing people to get involved. They get involved with bells on. Every year, they come up with great ideas to make books and reading fun, put them into practice and, in turn, inspire the children around them. It never fails to amaze me how much creativity there is in schools, bookshops and libraries all over the country –book bunting (see right), book fairs, book swaps, extreme reading, fundraising for Book Aid International, competitions, themed lunches, themed lessons…the list is endless…all in a bid to make children pick up a book and see how fun and entertaining reading can be.
2. World Book Day is a huge opportunity for all authors
And not just those who have £1 books. For the period around World Book Day, books have an elevated status – children’s authors, who are treated like rock gods, are working round the clock on events the length and breadth of the country – and that’s the way it should be. So this is an opportunity to be seized by everyone, as the £1 World Book Day book tokens can be spent on any book – so what a great chance for you to encourage it to be one of yours.
3. Children are really interested in finding out how to make great stories
For the second year running, we organised The Biggest Book Show on Earth, the UK’s biggest online festival which is simultaneously streamed round the world. This year, we gave authors a strict brief to talk about different aspects of writing stories as a way of breaking it down for children and giving them practical advice they could take away and put into practice in their own storywriting. I had an amazing email from a teacher who said that after the show, ‘the children began some of the most amazing, inspired stories I have ever seen children write’. I couldn’t ask for better feedback. To carry on this inspiration we created a fantastic range of inspirational Storycraft videos, aimed at children, too.
4. A good fancy dress costume doesn't replace a good book
Fancy dress is engulfing World Book Day! What began as a fun new way to celebrate books and imagination can easily set time-poor parents into panic mode as they try to rustle up yet another fancy dress outfit at short notice. And it's our challenge going forwards to help ensure that people don't lose sight of the real aim of the day–to get children interested in books and excited about reading. This year, in response to the demand for new and original ideas, we've created a Showcase area on our website where teachers, parents and other literacy professionals – and authors! - can upload their suggestions to share with others, to ensure that the day is always brought back to books.
5. It's exciting to try new things and forge new partnerships
One of the great things about working on a campaign like this is that there is literally no limit to the things you can do, the ideas you can come up with and the new friends you can make. This year, we worked with Movellas, Swapit, Aurasma, CBBC, the Southbank Centre, Butlins, Iceland, TES, Guardian Education, First News, Picturehouse Cinemas - all of them open to helping us reach new audiences to spread the word about the joy of reading.
And the biggest learning of all (which I knew already, of course, but it always impresses me) is that we couldn’t do it without all you wonderful authors and illustrators – and for that, I would like to say a heartfelt thank you. I look forward to sharing it with you and doing it all again next year - make sure 6 March 2014 is in your diary!