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 very pleased to welcome the brilliant author of Time Travelling With A Hamster, Ross Welford, to share why he believes children’s books should be celebrated:
One of the great, and completely unexpected, joys of the last year has been seeing versions of Time Travelling With A Hamster appearing in other languages.
From Zeitreise Mit Hamster in German, and In Viaggio Nel Tempo Con Il Criceto in Italian to something I can’t even write in Korean, it’s a pleasing reminder of just how gloriously open are children’s minds. Quite what a Korean ten year-old makes of the adventures of a mixed-race Geordie boy and his pet rodent I can’t tell, but my hope is that the child’s imagination will compensate for any cultural gaps.
That, surely, is the glory of storytelling: the ability to encourage the reader to experience in his or her imagination something that might never happen in real life. As a writer, it’s a privilege to be allowed to play with someone’s imagination like that – even more so when it is a child whose imagination has not yet been stunted by the quotidian cares of adulthood.
Ask an adult what his or her favourite book is, and there’s a good chance that the answer will be a book from childhood. Watership Down, perhaps, or Lord Of The Rings, or The Chronicles Of Narnia or something by Phillip Pullman. This June marks – incredibly – the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone, so there are now many grown-ups who will name this and its shelf-mates as their favourites. Proof, if it were needed, of the immense power of children’s books to spark the imagination long after the last page.
I’d love to think that in twenty years’ time a Korean adult might name the story he read as a child about an English kid and his hamster as his favourite ever book!
Ross Welford was a magazine journalist and television producer in the UK before becoming an author. He lives in London with his young family, a border collie, a hamster, and several tropical fish. Time Travelling With A Hamster was his first book. His second book, What Not To Do If You Turn Invisible is out now, published by HarperCollins Children’s Books.
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.