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22 Feb 2012

World Book Day

It's World Book Day on 1st March. Find out how to get involved with this fantastic nationwide celebration of reading here.

The fantastically vivid and exciting website for World Book Day claims that it ‘is the biggest celebration of its kind, anywhere’! With a claim like that, this is one date on the calendar you don’t want to miss. With competitions, book swaps, readathons, and storytelling going on nationwide, it’s set to be a celebration of reading on a grand scale. There are millions of book vouchers to be given out, free books for kids, loads of publicity from blogs to newspapers, through to schools, libraries and bookshops, and a wonderful sense of community for readers big and small. With so many events going on, there really is something for everyone to get enthusiastic about. Check out your local library to see what they’ve got in store, or make your way to one of these great events:

Creator of some of the best-loved characters, from the BFG to the Twits, Matilda to Charlie, Roald Dahl’s books have been entertaining us for over seventy years. This fabulous, free event for all ages takes place in the Roald Dahl Museum. The event starts after school, at 3.30pm, with games, storytelling and crafts and seems a most fitting way to spend this special day.

25th February – LONDON CHILDREN’S BOOK SWAP, citywide
This year sees the first ever London-wide Children’s Book Swap, launching in cultural, literary and family venues across the capital – from the banks of the River Thames to the edge of the Olympic Park. Children and families can visit one of the selected venues and pick up a book for free, and bring books along with them to leave at the venue for another child to choose and take home. There are plenty of fun events too.

What better way to celebrate World Book Day than by dressing up as your favourite book character? The international charity Book Aid is urging you to do just that. With a suggested donation of £1 to take part, your school or community group can hold a dress up day, with a chance to get really creative (I’m thinking ‘Charlotte’s Web’!). It’s a fab and fun way to raise money to send books to schools in sub-Saharan Africa. Download a fundraising form from

In celebration of World Book Week – My favourite children’s book
Trying to select my favourite children’s book was impossible – I had so many well-thumbed, dearly-loved tomes as a child, and spent much of my time wedged up against the radiator with my nose between the pages of a library book. Books invite us to take a fantastical leap into another reality, one that is rewarded with memories as vivid as those that happened in ‘real time’. Some of the characters we meet between the pages change our life forever; we learn, laugh and grow alongside them. After much deliberation, I have come up with this selection of some of my favourite children’s books (but this list is by no means final!):

Starting with picture books, I always adored Mog in Mog the Forgetful Cat and other books by Judith Kerr. I was devastated recently when I found amongst my nieces’ collection Goodbye Mog, published in 2003, documenting Mog’s demise – oh, my heart broke for my favourite literary kitty! And no picture-book collection would be complete without Dogger by Shirley Hughes – this book perfectly encapsulates the rollercoaster of emotions of losing a beloved toy. Quite possibly Dogger is the most appealing illustration ever.

Later on, Enid Blyton’s The Magical Faraway Tree was the source of about as much pleasure as a book can bring – the Land of Treats anyone? I can still remember the thrill of the magical, ghostly worlds evoked in Lucy M. Boston’s The Children of Green Knowe and Tom’s Midnight Garden by Phillippa Pearce. Delving into the fabulous landscape of The Borrowers by Mary Norton, marked the beginning of leaving ‘useful’ objects like buttons scattered around the house. I loved books such as Watership Down by Richard Adams and Robert O’ Brien’s Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh, in which animals fought back against human oppression.

My brother, sister and I had tape recordings of a family friend reading the whole works of Roald Dahl in my youthful innocence I believed it was the great author himself. Now, reading any of Dahl’s fantastic children’s books hurtles me back through time to those warm tones soothing us three to sleep.

Two books that seemed to capture the delicious irreverence of childhood for me were Florence Parry Heide’s The Shrinking of Treehorn, and The Stupids Step Out by Harry Allard.

I will never forget the first time I read Goodnight Mr Tom by Michelle Magorian, or Ian Serraillier’s The Silver Sword, both books dealing with very different experiences of the Second World War, both heart-wrenchingly poignant.

To be honest, the list is endless and the more I reflect, the more books come to mind. To celebrate World Book Day this year, why not seek out some of your childhood favourites and have a story-night? Let us know what books made your childhood magical, we’d love to hear from you!

The gorgeous image to illustrate this post is part of a range of cards that can be sent to celebrate World Book Day – why not send one to someone who’s inspired you!

Lucy Corkhill is a freelance writer and hosts art and writing workshops from her windswept cliff-top home. She worked for many years as a therapist specialising in pregnancy, birth and the post-natal period. She lives with her husband, their two year old son, a dog, three cats and loads of spiders.

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