How to celebrate World Book Day with your kids – plus a list of great reads to get them hooked
Why is reading important for children?
Reading can reduce stress and promote mental well-being. The world in a book is a place where children can escape from real life for a while, relax and think about other things.
Reading encourages understanding and imagination – children must visualize characters and settings, and predict what will happen next.
Reading improves concentration – children need to concentrate on what they are reading in order to know what is happening in the story.
Reading increases vocabulary – while reading a book, children are likely to come across words that are unfamiliar to them. They can ask an adult, use a dictionary or deduce the meaning on their own – either way they are learning new words and skills.
Reading helps children better understand the world around them. A book can show them people, places and events that they would never have known otherwise.
Reading develops empathy – the ability to understand and be sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others. By reading stories about characters who are in different situations and feel a range of emotions, children become more insightful into how those around them may be feeling and why.
Although it may seem passive, reading is an active hobby! Children can learn and develop many different skills just by reading. As former Harvard President Charles W. Eliot said:
National Read a Book Day Ideas
Whether it’s fiction or fact, a new book or an old favorite, every reading experience is valuable.
If a child isn’t old enough to read yet, that doesn’t mean they can’t participate – you can read to them! In addition to sharing the joy of reading a book together, it will help them develop their listening and concentration skills. Take a look at our 10 Storytelling Tips blog for help and advice.
Wordless picture books are also great for developing children’s storytelling skills and helping to foster a love of books. Check out PlanBee’s list of our favorite wordless books here.
Listening to audiobooks can also be a valuable experience for young readers.
Reluctant and Developing Readers
Pair them up with a friend and let them share a book (they could take turns choosing it). Encourage them to read together and talk about what happens in the story or their thoughts on the characters or events.
Books with short chapters are great for building up a developing reader’s stamina and keeping them engaged. JK Rowling’s The Ickabog (which was originally released online at an average of two short chapters a day over 34 days, gaining huge acclaim) is a great example of a book with plenty of cliffhangers.
Mystery is a powerful tool – describe a selection of books to children using just three words or phrases related to each story (e.g. George’s Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl could be ‘grandma’, ‘potion’ and ‘giant chicken’ ”), then let them decide which book they want to hear/read. You can also wrap the books and write the three words on the front, then place them on the shelf.
Children could be encouraged to ask a friend for a book recommendation and then give one back. For use in the classroom, PlanBee’s foldable review bookmark is a fun and quick way to jot down the subject of the book and leave tips for the next potential reader.
Organize a book exchange. The owner of each book could be encouraged to write a brief description of the story, who they think might like it and why, and attach it to the book, to help others decide which one to choose.
Organize a “book tasting” session. Set a table with a tablecloth, plates, drinks and menus. Place a different book on each plate, and in the menu write a brief description of each. Children are seated, then spend 5-10 minutes reading the book on the plate in front of them before moving around the table to ‘taste’ the next book. They could have a scorecard and rate their interest in each book or their likelihood of continuing to read it afterward.
Start a book club. Make it appealing by including drinks and snacks! Make sure kids know that the book club is a place where they can share their opinions and ask questions about what they’ve read without judgment.
Diversity: books to stay authentic
Rocket’s excitement brings neighbors and family together to witness a unique sighting of a comet.
Super Duper You by Sophy Henn
This rhyming picture book celebrates all the different, amazing and sometimes contradictory things that we are.
The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad
This story is about two sisters’ first day of school and the first day of wearing the hijab.
Coming to England: an inspiring true story celebrating the Windrush generation by Baroness Floella Benjamin
When she was ten years old, Floella Benjamin, her older sister and two younger brothers, set sail from Trinidad to London. Coming to England was not at all what Floella expected. It’s a true story with the powerful message that courage and determination can always overcome adversity.
A girl inventor whose main caregiver is her grandfather. It shows the character trying again and again.
Through My Window by Tony Bradman, Eileen Brown
The street life of children waiting for their mother to come home from work.
This is a powerful and moving picture book about colorism, self-esteem and learning that true beauty comes from within, designed to inspire children to see their own unique beauty.
Your Name is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow
Frustrated by a day full of teachers and classmates mispronouncing her beautiful name, a little girl tells her mother she never wants to go back to school. So his mother teaches him the musicality of African, Asian, Black American, Latino and Middle Eastern names during their lyrical walk through the city.
Handa’s Surprise by Eileen Browne
Handa, who is from the Luo tribe in southwestern Kenya, decides to bring seven delicious fruits to her friend, Akeyo, who lives in the nearby village.
Queen of Hula-Hoopin’ by Thelma Lynne Godin
Set in New York, it’s about a girl who loves the hula hoop.
Hair love by Matthew Cherry
Tender and nurturing, Hair Love is an ode to the love of your natural hair and a celebration of dads and daughters everywhere.
There is also a Hair Love animation available to watch.
Like a Girl by Lori Degman
24 women who took risks, took action, broke down barriers and transformed the world.
Incredible Grace by Mary Hoffman
Grace loves stories, whether they’re from books, movies, or the kind her grandmother tells. When her school decides to play Peter Pan, Grace aspires to play the lead role, but her classmates point out that Peter was a boy and not black.
The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Rauf
A child’s perspective on the refugee crisis, highlighting the importance of friendship and kindness in a world that doesn’t always make sense.
Windrush Child by Benjamin Zephaniah
Leonard is shocked when he arrives with his mother in the port of Southampton. Her father is a stranger to her, it’s cold, and Jamaican food doesn’t taste the same as it does back home. Leonard does his best not to complain, to make new friends, to do well in school – even when people hurt him with their words and with their fists. (Scheduled for release on November 5, 2020)
Fly Me Home by Polly Ho-Yen
Feeling lost and alone in a strange new town, Leelu wishes she could fly back home – her real home where her father is, thousands of miles away.
How High is the Moon by Karyn Parsons
The year is 1944, and in a segregationist small town in the south, eleven-year-old Ella spends her summers going wild with her cousins and friends. Ella visits Boston and sees what life is like outside of segregation, and begins to dream of a very different future. But her happiness is shattered when she returns home to learn that her classmate has been arrested for the murder of two white girls.