World Book Day Author and Illustrator Q & A: Meet Onjali Q Rauf, Matt Haig and Laura Ellen Anderson

« Back

World Book Day is nearly here!

The World’s biggest celebration of books and reading for pleasure is taking place on 5th March! Throughout World Book Day month (27th February to 29th March) we are celebrating the power of reading by challenging YOU to Share A Million Stories.

We are very excited to speak to authors of this year’s World Book Day books about sharing stories and why they love World Book Day. Meet Onjali Q Rauf Matt Haig and Laura Ellen Anderson!

OQR: Onjali Q Rauf, author of The Day We Met the Queen

MH: Matt Haig, author of Evie in the Jungle

LEA: Laura Ellen Anderson, author of Amelia Fang and the Bookworm Gang

What do you love about World Book Day?

OQR: The joy it gifts to everyone and anyone lucky enough to get a book token in their hands! I still remember the first time my teacher gave me a token and said I could actually take one of the books pictured on it home! For free! It was like a birthday and Eid gift had suddenly been handed to me by some invisible, book-giving Santa Claus, and I remember feeling suddenly very grown-up and important – because I had to make the very important decision of which book to ‘purchase’ with it. Which naturally, caused me many an agonising hour, before my friends and I finally became wise to the fact that we could all get a different book and simply share them between each other 😊

Why do you think sharing stories is so important?

MH: Stories help us escape our current reality and if we’re having a tough time that’s even more important. Reading is important because it gives you room to exist beyond the reality you are given. Reading makes the world better. It is how humans merge and how minds connect. Dreams, empathy, understanding, escape. Reading is humanity in action. Sharing stories is an expression of love.

LEA: Sharing stories is good for the soul! By sharing a story with someone, you’re broadening your imagination and putting yourself into another character’s shoes. You get to share the thoughts and feelings of that character and experience what their life is like. Sharing a story with a friend, a parent, a teacher, a librarian, or your favourite toy can make such a difference, whether it be a story you love, a story you’ve written or even a tale from your own life.

If you could share a story with anyone, who would that be?

OQR: I would love to meet Baby Raehan – the baby boy who inspired me to write The Boy at the Back of the Class – and share a story with him. And his mother Zainab too. The story would be about what I see as his book, what his legacy for me has become, and everything it has started to help do for other little children just like him. I wonder how he would react to it – and whether he would believe me!

If you could share one story for 10 minutes, which one would you pick?

LEA: If I could share one story for 10 minutes, it would be the first chapter of Road Dahl’s The Witches, called ‘A Note About Witches’. It sparks your curiosity straight away. Dahl’s language is very knowing, and that first chapter describing how to spot a witch is one of the best pieces of writing I’ve read.


Who do you enjoy sharing stories with?

MH: My kids, Lucas (12) and Pearl (10). When they were little their favourite book was The Tiger who came to Tea. They wanted me to read it all the time. We are now reading Artemis Fowl together and it’s the highlight of our day. I love sharing my own stories with them too as they are the most honest readers. They always let me know what they do and don’t like.

LEA: I love sharing stories with the children who come to my school events and festival events. Seeing the reactions on their faces when we read certain chapters or make funny character voices is something really special. I love coming up with new characters and stories with the children and discussing how the character might look, what they like/dislike and what their story is. It’s amazing what wonderful ideas we all come up with together!

Which book character would you most like to share a story with and why?

OQR: Without doubt, Anne from Anne of Green Gables. I think I would find her reactions and her own imaginative interpretation of my (probably very basic and poorly told!) story wonderful to see, and her imagination would run off into a glorious direction that I would never have been able to foresee.

MH: It would have to be with the ultimate reader, Roald Dahl’s Matilda. She would definitely give you an honest answer!

What will you be doing on World Book Day?

LEA: On World Book Day I will be sharing stories with YOU. I will be in on stage talking about how wonderful World Book Day is. I will be drawing characters from my book series Amelia Fang, and showing a VERY big audience of school children and teachers how each character has their very own unique personality and how these characters might be illustrated in different situations. It’s a really fun and insightful activity that I hope kids will draw inspiration from it when they are writing stories and coming up with their own characters to share.

Why not take a look inside The Day We Met the Queen,  Evie in the Jungle  and Amelia Fang and the Bookworm Gang?