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  • ‘Reading for pleasure‘ charity celebrates 20th anniversary with new research that shows children read more because of World Book Day
  • One in four children say that the book they bought with their 2016 World Book Day book token was the first book they owned

To mark World Book Day’s 20th anniversary (Thursday 2 March 2017), the ‘reading for pleasure’ charity has released new data which shows the positive impact it has on the lives of children across the UK.

Conducted by the National Literacy Trust, the survey of over 9,000 pupils aged between 8 and 11 (Key Stage Two) found that nine out of ten (89.5%) were aware of World Book Day and six in ten (58.8%) were inspired to read more by the celebration of books and reading.

The data also showed that World Book Day was meeting its core objective of encouraging more children to explore the pleasure of reading by selecting and owning a book of their own, with one in four pupils (25.2%) saying that the book they ‘bought’ with their 2016 World Book Day book token was the first book they have had of their own. Amongst children receiving free school meals, this number increased to three in ten (32.9%).

World Book Day in the UK and Ireland enables increased book ownership amongst children by distributing £1 World Book Day book tokens via schools and nurseries all over the country. The £1 book tokens, supplied by official sponsor National Book Tokens Ltd, can be exchanged for one of ten specially-published £1 World Book Day books. This is made possible by a partnership of publishers, booksellers and interested parties who work together to promote books and reading for the personal enrichment and enjoyment of all.

The survey also revealed that six in ten Key Stage Two pupils (58.6%) took part in a World Book Day activity – whether at school or at home – in 2016, a number which the charity hopes to see increase this year as it celebrates its 20th anniversary.

Kirsten Grant, Director of World Book Day, said: “We’re extremely proud of how deep and wide the impact of World Book Day continues to be in the lives of children and young people all over the UK and Ireland, particularly in light of the recent news that one in ten people don’t own a single book*. Evidence suggests that there is a lost generation of readers amongst today’s adults, but we truly hope and firmly believe that, through giving children and young people greater access to books, World Book Day is ensuring that the next generation carry a love of reading with them on into adulthood.

“Reading isn’t just about literacy skills and attainment levels either – it’s about creativity, imagination and empathy, it opens up whole new universes and changes the way we see and think about the world. Unlocking those worlds and empowering children to make choices about what they want to read, enabling them to own their own books and inspiring them to be regular visitors to their local bookshop and library is the beginning of a lifetime of pleasure.”

Founder of World Book Day UK, Baroness Gail Rebuck, also Chair of Penguin Random House UK and founder of Quick Reads, says: “In 1997 the level of children’s engagement with reading was at a point of national crisis. The previous year a Government report had been released showing that 42% of 11-year-olds failed to achieve level 4 in reading and writing on entry to secondary school. We wanted to do something to reposition reading and our message is the same today as it was then – that reading is fun, relevant, accessible, exciting, and has the power to transform lives. I’ve seen first-hand how World Book Day has affected social change and long may it continue.”

As well as enabling hundreds of thousands of children to own a book each year, World Book Day puts on a number of high profile events and activities encouraging people to ‘Do Something Booky’. This year’s The Biggest Book Show on Earth will visit Glasgow, Coventry, Barry, London and Dublin with an all-star line-up of over 30 authors and illustrators, giving over 6,000 children the opportunity to see their literary heroes in person. The Oodles of Doodles initiative is offering children the chance to design a National Book Token, inspired by special 20th anniversary doodles from the UK’s best-loved illustrators, while the World Book Day website offers a range of assets and ideas to help schools, bookshops, libraries and families mark the occasion.

*From a poll carried out by Censuswide Research on behalf of Aviva in December 2016.

Photo: Pupils-from-Saint-Rose-of-Lima-School-in-Glasgow-celebrate-World-Book-Day