David Walliams, Dame Jacqueline Wilson
and Julia Donaldson
among the “national treasures” writing new stories to mark the occasion
World Book Day UK has today (Friday 9 Sept) announced an all-star line-up of authors and illustrators to help it celebrate its 20th anniversary, with the goal of encouraging greater engagement with reading and ownership of books by children.
The reading for pleasure charity has recruited “national treasures” including David Walliams, Dame Jacqueline Wilson and Julia Donaldson to help it reach more children and young people than ever. These authors will each contribute an official World Book Day £1 book, which children can get for free in exchange for the £1 book token available to all schoolchildren in the UK and Ireland.
Over the past 19 years, World Book Day UK has delivered 13 million £1 books into the hands of young people across the country. In 2016, the number of £1 books given away was 789,738. The charity’s aim for its 20th anniversary is to increase this number to one million.
World Book Day was first designated an international event by UNESCO in 1995 after being observed for over 70 years in Catalonia, where giving books to friends and family had become an annual tradition. It was first marked in the UK two years later in 1997, in response to an increasing concern over poor reading and writing standards.
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.”
World Book Day Director Kirsten Grant says: “World Book Day is about creating readers for the future by igniting a love of books and reading in children and young people. It’s about encouraging them to visit their local bookshop and empowering them to make their own choices about the kinds of books they want to read. What better way to do this than offering them stories from the best writing and illustrating talent being published in the UK and Ireland today? We couldn’t be happier to have so many national treasures on board for our 20th anniversary - nobody can better capture children’s imaginations.”
The ten official World Book Day £1 books cater for all ages from pre-school through to young adults. In 2017, the titles for the nation’s youngest book lovers will feature beloved characters Peppa Pig and extraterrestrials from the Aliens Love Underpants series. For readers at Key Stage 1, Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks will contribute a new Princess Mirror-Belle title and Martin Handford has made one of his Where’s Wally? adventures available. They can also pick up some tips from Horrid Henry or catch up with the Famous Five, whereas Key Stage 2 readers will be able to enjoy something new from beloved British authors David Walliams or Dame Jacqueline Wilson. Young Adult titles will come from Michael Grant and David Almond, and the official World Book Day 2017 illustrator is Liz Pichon, children's book writer and illustrator/creator of the Tom Gates series.
The £1 World Book Day books for 2017 in full:
- Peppa Loves World Book Day (Ladybird)
- Everyone Loves Underpants by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort (Simon & Schuster Children’s Books)
- Where’s Wally? The Fantastic Journey by Martin Handford (Walker Books)
- Princess Mirror-Belle and Snow White by Julia Donaldson & Lydia Monks (Macmillan)
- Horrid Henry: Funny Fact Files by Francesca Simon (Orion Children’s Books)
- Good Old Timmy and Other Stories by Enid Blyton (Hodder Children’s Books)
- An as yet untitled book by David Walliams (HarperCollins)
- Butterfly Beach by Jacqueline Wilson (Corgi)
- Island by David Almond (Hodder Children’s Books)
- Dead of Night: A Front Lines Story by Michael Grant (Egmont)