Why World Book Day is more than just a costume

Feb. 23, 2018
Rachel Revell

Rachel Revell

Vice Principal, Oasis Academy Wintringham

World Book Day is the biggest event in the school calendar. I firmly believe reading opens doors for children and benefits them for the rest of their lives.

I always dreamed of sharing my love of reading with the children at my school. When I became Assistant Principal, and assumed responsibility for whole school literacy, World Book Day was the perfect opportunity to do this.

Over the last few years we have really made the most of World Book Day celebrations because it has a real significance for our staff and students due to us working so hard to develop the culture around reading in the school. There is always a fantastic atmosphere on the day because everyone is on board and makes the day a huge success.

World Book Day activities

We have a theme each year and these have included ones such as love and hate and heroes and villains; it is always so encouraging that lots of departments take part demonstrating how integral reading has become.

"World Book Day is a great way for schools to inspire pupils and start a reading culture. As a result of ours, the reading ages of Years 7-9 have improved, on average, by 13 months"

Many colleagues base the start of their lessons around a character from a book, we have had them make yellow brick roads leading down our corridors and entire departments representing characters from books such as A Christmas Carol and Lord of the Rings. World Book Day ideas like this offer so much potential and at Oasis Academy Wintringham we firmly believe: go big or go home when it comes to World Book Day!

The response each year from staff and students is amazing. There is a real sense that it isn’t one day to us and that World Book Day activities simply gives us all a chance to show off our love of reading, which I think is a really important message.

This is the fruit of a lot of hard work over the last few years: we put so much effort into completely changing the school culture around reading. Now, every child in our school carries a book and inside that is a world he or she might never have accessed before.

World Book Day impact

It’s particularly important in our context as our school has an intake significantly below the national average at KS2. I was particularly keen to improve reading because it gives the students an opportunity to experience all sorts of adventures, offering a window into a different world that they would not otherwise see in a small area like Grimsby.

World Book Day

World Book Day is a great way for schools to inspire pupils and start a reading culture. As a result of ours, the reading ages of Years 7-9 have improved, on average, by 13 months in the last academic year and this is the second consecutive year to record such improvements.

Although the numbers are great, it’s the interactions with pupils where you feel the real difference has been made. This was most notable for me during a conversation with one of our students with complex needs, who had a troubled childhood, had been in care and is autistic.

The reading programme supported her and she became a word millionaire very quickly because she loved it so much. I spoke to her on the corridor one day and she told me she had been reading a Patrick Ness book as part of a Carnegie shadowing scheme and it concentrated on the importance of ordinary characters instead of heroes.

She would not otherwise have picked this up, were it not for the reading programme, and she turned to me and said it made her realise she mattered. It made her realise her role in the world was important whatever that may be.

It doesn’t get better than that.

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This article originally appeared on the website of Ambition School Leadership. In March 2019, the Institute for Teaching merged with Ambition School Leadership to form Ambition Institute.

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