It’s World Book Day on Thursday. All over the UK (and probably in a lot of other places,) parents are frantically gluing, sewing, crocheting or buying costumes. I decided to get organised this year and began planning Tom’s costume in January. He wanted to be Fantastic Mr Fox, so I started watching ears, tails and foppish jackets on eBay.
I don’t know many people with children, but the general consensus I get from parents in the virtual world is that World Book Day is either an exciting challenge or a pain in the arse. All of this can make us forget what the day is all about. So, forget the tin foil / fur fabric / superglue for a moment and read this:
Last year, Book Aid International sent over half a million books to sub-Saharan Africa. This incredible charity helps to improve education, literacy and development in the places that need it most. While we’re busy tweeting and texting and looking things up on Wikipedia, it’s easy to forget how powerful and useful books can be. It’s also easy for us to take for granted the ease with which we and our children can get hold of pretty much any book we like, for cheap or even free.
Book Aid International helps people who wouldn’t otherwise have access to books. In Kenya, for example, hundreds of thousands of children never even get to finish primary school, because they’re too poorly, or they’re looking after a relative with HIV or Aids, or they need to go to work in order to be able to survive. Those who do make it through primary school work in classrooms with no books and unsurprisingly, leave with low levels of literacy.
Winnie is a primary school pupil who wouldn’t be learning to read if it wasn’t for the work of Book Aid International. She said: “I like reading books because books are the things that motivate us and let us be who we want.”
Winnie’s quote really touched me; books don’t just inform, they also inspire.
So, if you’re cursing the school for springing World Book Day on you at the last minute, or yourself for forgetting to sort out a costume, take a minute to visit the website and find out what you can do to help. And if you’re not a parent and you’ve never sewed / stuck together / stolen a costume and don’t know what the heck I am going on about, still go along to the website and see what you can do to help.
Tom didn’t end up having to dress up this year (I don’t think I could have managed a fox and a pyramid in one month.) Instead, he had to design a book cover. I tried telling him that I think you’re supposed to base it on existing book, but he insisted on inventing his own. Completely bonkers but very ace: