With World Book Day falling during lockdown in England, schools have had to come up with innovative ideas to celebrate. This is a TES article by Grainne Hallahan. 

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We have become used to World Book Day becoming more and more commercial, much to the chagrin of teachers and parents alike. 

Dressing up as book characters (and sometimes not book characters) seems to have become the focus, with the reading part getting forgotten. 

This year, World Book Day is on 4 March and, consequently, only key-worker and vulnerable children will be in school in England.

As a result, World Book Day celebrations will look a little different this year – hopefully, say these teachers, more focused on the most important part of the day: books.

World Book Day: How are schools celebrating in lockdown?

So how are schools marking the day?

The AP school
Ruth Whitehead is headteacher of Market Field School, a day special school in Essex for children and young people between the ages of 5 and 16 who experience moderate learning difficulties.

“We thought very hard about something that could be done both in school and at home, and have decided to make our World Book Day focus on reading at bedtime,” she says.

“We’ve called it ‘Snuggle Down and Share a Story’ and we’ll be promoting the joy that is a bedtime story. No bedtime story is complete without PJs, so we are having a pyjama day (even West Ham ones are allowed).

“To include our learners who are at home, over the day we will be sharing recordings of staff reading their favourite bedtime stories on our school website home page.

“In addition to this, we’re also using our speech and language therapists (SALT) to record some signed stories for our hearing-impaired students and students who communicate via sign language.”

The academy trust
Amy Rose is the regional lead practitioner of Ormiston Academies Trust, which is made up of 30,000 pupils across six English regions, in 32 secondary schools, seven primary schools and one special school.

“This year at Ormiston Academies Trust we’re doing a World Book Day takeover. All of our academies are invited to grab some snacks and join us in reading, discussing and celebrating our favourite books for the afternoon,” she says.

“We’ll be providing a mixture of live and pre-recorded content that staff and students will be able to access. Students will also hear from an array of well-known authors on the books they have written, including Thomas Taylor, who will be discussing his new book Malamander, and Katherine Rundell, who will be talking about her World Book Day special Skysteppers.

“World Book Day is about helping students to find the fun in reading, and to see that it isn’t about passing tests but is instead about getting to explore times, places and experiences that would otherwise be unreachable. In turn, reading can help to narrow the attainment gap between the most advantaged and the most disadvantaged students.”

The secondary school
Jessica Snook is a teacher of English at Wyvern St Edmund’s School in Salisbury, Wiltshire

“To celebrate World Book Day, we have planned for our key stage 3 students to have a day of creative writing and reading activities,” she says.

“In the morning, they will have a remote lesson reading the first half of Roald Dahl’s short story Lamb to the Slaughter and imagining their own ending, before comparing it to Dahl’s ending.

“To encourage reading a range of fiction and non-fiction books, each year group is being given a virtual library of recommendations that have come from each subject across the curriculum.

“We have also put on competitions to reward our readers, including quizzes and photography challenges designed to engage students with reading and books. We are also sharing externally run narrative and poetry-writing competitions to engage students in creative writing beyond the classroom.”

The primary school
Makeba Nugent is reading lead and assistant headteacher at Drew Primary School in East London

“This year our theme for World Book Day is diversity. Each class teacher has chosen a diverse book that reflects our school community, and activities linked to the text will be planned and delivered throughout the day,” she says.

“We’re planning a whole-school community activity to encourage reading for pleasure. In the morning and afternoon, everyone (including all staff) will stop what they’re doing and read a book of their choice for 10 minutes.

“We’ll all be doing this at the same time, so even though we’re not physically together, we’ll be sharing the experience by reading together, wherever we are.”

The junior school
Hannah Caldwell is a Year 6 teacher at Oak Hill Academy, a four-form entry junior school in West London

“In keeping with the World Book Day theme of ‘share a story’, we are inspiring children to bring their favourite authors, characters and books to life through a variety of online author and illustrator activities,”  she says.

“All children will be exploring the extraordinary and eye-opening tales of far-flung places via online activities, from draw-alongs to interactive writer workshops and online masterclasses hosted by a variety of inspiring authors including Zoe Antoniades, Marie Skilling and Joanna Botwood.”