With children’s books, we need never be bored again
On Thursday 2nd March, World Book Day turns 20! That’s 20 years of celebrating children’s books and the joy that reading can bring.
To mark this special anniversary, we’ve teamed up with 20 top children’s authors, illustrators, publishers and journalists to bring you 20 reasons to celebrate children’s books.
Today we are delighted to welcome Mairi Kidd, Managing Director of children’s publisher Barrington Stoke to share why, for her, children’s books deserve to be celebrated:
Children’s books are incredible things – they offer entertainment, escape, excitement, the chance to develop empathy and understanding. The experiences they offer can be scary or uplifting, they can make us laugh or make us cry, and they give us a safe ‘space’ to confront our fears and other emotions. Many children’s books have stunning illustrations by some of the leading artists working today. They don’t need a power source and they fit in a pocket or a bag with ease. If we develop a love of reading at an early age, we need never be bored again.
But that’s a big ‘if’. Some people struggle with reading, because of dyslexia, visual stress, eyesight issues, language issues, or myriad other challenges. Jim Curran is one of these people; in fact he can’t read at all. Jim is the main character in The Pavee and the Buffer Girl, our beautiful new adaptation of a Siobhan Dowd story by illustrator Emma Shoard. He is a Traveller boy, and his experience of education has been very disrupted: “In the last school, a year ago, he’d picked up a black eye and a bruised collarbone in two weeks, but no reading. The thought of all those books with the ugly black marks like secret codes was worse than all the fights put together.”
That’s a pretty miserable statement, but there’s lots that can be done to help. Charities like Dyslexia Action work to support adults and children who struggle with literacy due to dyslexia. Our own books are published with a dyslexia-friendly typeface and special layout and edit tweaks to help, and we publish age-appropriate content at a range of reading ages so no big, mature 10 or 11-year-old has to read a ‘baby book’ because they find reading tough – for whatever reason.
Some people don’t struggle with reading, but they don’t ever fall in love with it either. This may be because they’ve never met the right book at the right time – and they may have met a lot of the wrong ones. There are – whisper it! – bad books out there, and sometimes children tell adults they don’t like a book and WE DON’T LISTEN. Our new picture book The Covers of My Book Are Too Far Apart looks at ‘reading grumbles’ including those old chestnuts ‘reading’s rubbish’ and ‘I don’t have time’ and unpicks some of the reasons behind a dislike of books. We hope it will be useful in encouraging adults and children to talk about books and reading, and in helping us all listen to what children have to say, so we can help them get to a book that speaks to them.
Barrington Stoke specialises in ‘cracking reading’, publishing super-readable children’s books that break down the barriers that can stop kids getting into reading. Our first-rate short fiction brings together the very best children’s authors and illustrators in the UK with a host of unique accessibility features to offer cracking reads accessible to more children including those with dyslexia or visual stress. Find out more about Barrington Stoke here.
World Book Day is an annual celebration of authors. illustrators, books and reading. Every year on World Book Day, thousands of school children dress up as their favourite children’s book characters to raise money for Book Aid International, so we can send more brand new books to libraries and schools in Africa. Last year they raised over £120,000 – enough to send 60,000 books to communities where children would otherwise have extremely limited opportunities to read! Learn more about World Book Day here.
Visit our World Book Day resources page for fundraising ideas, classroom resources and costume guides. Fundraise for Book Aid International this World Book Day and share the joy of reading with children in communities where books are scarce.