Three Cheers For World Book Day!


When I was at primary school, we didn’t have World Book Day. On the contrary, we had a postage stamp library and we penned our own novels in our final year, aged ten or eleven. Mine was a sci-fi romp entitled ‘They Came From…’. I drew a barcode on the back and everything. I would have loved World Book Day though, with its focus on telling stories, book characters and reading. I’ve always been a sucker for a good yarn…

My love of books and reading as a child stemmed from my parents. As far back as I can remember, they would take me to choose eight new books from our local library every three weeks, and I’d look forward to this greatly. I loved everything about our local library – the gigantic floor-to-ceiling windows beckoning you in, along with the stillness of the place, which was so other to my chaotic household where I was one of eight children. In a library, silence was revered and that was incredible to my fledging introvert persona – at home, silence was unheard of.

The library held books, and books were the keeper of other worlds, of words I’d never encountered, of places I’d never been. I recall as an eight year old reading a book and tracing the phrase ‘she sat bolt upright’ with my fingers along the page. I loved that phrase and put it into my first novel, aged eleven.

Plus, I loved the smell of books – they smelt of knowledge, art and imagination, a delicious combo. And I loved the feel of books, especially yellow ones. No, I don’t know why either. I would clasp hardbacks to my chest and cradle them like new-borns; I would place paperbacks carefully into my satchel, making sure they were safe. At that stage, I didn’t know you could own books, I thought they had to be borrowed and shared.

I was a regular library dweller throughout my university years too, gulping down the latest hits as well as the classics. And recently, I’ve started going back to libraries after a period of ultimate gentrification where I’ve solely bought books for the past decade. Thinking about it though, my ethos of sharing was probably right all along – if you love a book, set it free.

I hope all the kids who took part in World Book Day yesterday got plunged into a new world of fiction and had their creativity stirred as a result. A young reader normally turns into an older reader, after all, and one infused with life’s possibilities. I’m sad I missed out on World Book Day as a kid, but I didn’t really need any encouragement. Saying that, I would have hated the dressing up bit. Particularly if my mum had sent me to school dressed as Christian Grey…