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World Book Day

Geraldine Timlin

World Book Day-Celebrating the love of all things bookish


Why reading is a gift worth giving to your children.

World book Day is celebrated today, March 5th. Designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, it will see hundreds of thousands of books and stories being shared across the globe.

It is a great opportunity to get children interested and excited about reading. There is the customary dressing up as your favourite book character that most parents are very familiar with as a WBD school based event. Most parents are left in a rush to create a costume in the last week, as your child conjures up all sort of possible characters they imagine they can be, and your creativity is sparked by getting involved in this wonderful activity, last minute or not.

World Book Day is a day full of bookish fun. Working in a Primary school, I am lucky enough to see all the amazing efforts children and parents have made with costumes. Children proudly model their costume, taking on all the traits of their chosen character in many cases. It is a great way for them to explore stories beyond the pages of the book.

As WBD is one of the key moments in the reading calendar, it helps to promote reading and community – something that is integral to the Free Wee Library Project. Today is also a great opportunity to familiarise yourself and your children with the FWL library locations and a day to visit your local town/city library.

Sharing and encouraging a love of reading is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child.

Children are like sponges from birth. They soak up information through all of their senses. If you can guide them towards print and the written word you open up a whole magical world to them. Visiting the wee libraries, coupling exercise in beautiful scenic locations will feed their imagination, encourage creativity, allow an exploration of nature and give them the very much needed balance of 'more green time, less screen time'. If you can acquaint children from a young age with free books outdoors in the community, it can be a very good building block for positive mental health ; both exercise and reading are  proven means of maintaining long term good mental health.

The experience of reading outdoors (if the Irish weather would be kind to us) has a very calming effect on children, and adults. It is a bonus to be able to enjoy this now with the FWL locations bringing books to readers and readers to books.

Some suggestions to encourage children to read:

  • Children love having stories read to them and also love being heard reading. Read to your child every day. Sharing this quiet time with them, they will be encouraged by you.

  • Let older children read to younger children, and vice versa. Varying who reads will take the pressure off the adults if time is limited.

  • When reading don't assume children understand all the words you have read, or indeed all the words they may have read to you. I recently asked a group of seven-year-olds what a carpenter was, to my surprise, none of them knew despite having read the word in their story. They thought a carpenter made carpets.  It is definitely worth exploring and questioning their understanding of words.

  • If you model a positive attitude towards reading and writing to your child, you are shaping their perception of the act of reading for the future.

  • If you are time limited, set aside bedtime as reading time. Even if you only read to them for 10 minutes, it is better than not reading at all.

  • Keep books in the car or in your bag for times you are waiting or have stopped somewhere. It is amazing what 5-10 minutes of reading can achieve, anywhere.

  • You can vary interest in books by helping children to illustrate or draw characters from the stories, create a book based game- it could be as simple as a game of i-spy and finding a certain word in a story, or finding rhyming words, or words beginning with a certain letter.

  • Question them about the story. Why do you think the character did that? Ask them to describe scenes, characters, alternative endings – this creates a greater understanding and comprehension, and you are encouraging them to use their imagination.

  • Build in a visit to any of the Free Wee Libraries as part of your weekly routine with your child. Cycle or walk to get the exercise in. Children will love this and see so much of their locality on the way.

  • Finally, when we read from a print book, we experience a whole tactile sensation holding the physical book in our hands. This supposedly surpasses eBooks, kindles, and screen reading. We imagine the sounds, tastes, smells, and the emotions of characters when we read. Reading from a book stimulates areas of our brain that reading from a screen or watching a film cannot equal. Reading also encourages empathy as we live out the emotions of all the characters in the books we read.  Stories can also teach us patience, resilience and how to resolve situations. A good book will leave you with an experience and a great book will leave a lasting impact on you.

Reading to your child now when they are young and encouraging your child to develop a love of reading will reap benefits for them as adults. Children who read will become adults who think, and most importantly who think for themselves.

Free Wee Library @ Visit Inishowen Tourist Office, Buncrana, Co Donegal

Free Wee Library @ Visit Inishowen Tourist Office, Buncrana, Co Donegal

*Over 250 books have been distributed throughout the Free Wee Library locations today.

For the love of books, get out there and enjoy :-)

If you would like a Free Wee Library for your community or business, just contact us

Discover. Read. Share.

For other ideas on reading check out:

Drop Everything and Read

The Reading Agency

Scottish Book Trust