I shouldn’t be remotely snarky about the UK World Book Day, perhaps. After all, any initiative that promotes books and reading in a country whose literacy and reading levels besmirch its cultural and economic status is welcome.

“Thanks to National Book Tokens and lots of lovely book publishers and booksellers, World Book Day, in partnership with schools all over the country, will be distributing more than 14 million £1 World Book Day book tokens to children (that’s almost one for every child/young person under 18 in the UK and Ireland),” says the site. Fine, but why not books for adults? And how come all the other initiatives I can find right now for World Book Day are targeted at children?

Fine, this may be outside World Book Day’s specific remit, but fact remains that the best way to foster reading habits in kids is likely through their parents. Studies have proved this time and again. And until something serious is done about English attitudes to reading, literacy, and education in general – if it can be done – World Book Day in the UK context is more a matter of shuffling the deckchairs on the Titanic sinking island. Couldn’t World Book Day be used as a platform for that – to remind UK parents that by not encouraging their kids to read, they’re damaging their minds, their future, their class, and their country?

And that’s without even touching on the fact that World Book Day’s parent event, UNESCO’s World Book and Copyright Day, is celebrated as “… and Copyright Day,” which has the effrontery to link Malala Yousafzai’s suffering to Big Media’s copyright land grabs. At least the UK World Book Day doesn’t sink that low. No events for schools on the joys of 125-year copyright terms or the contributions that Sonny Bono has made to world civilization. Some publishers must be pissed.


  1. I am a long time reader of this site. I rarely ever comment but I am here everyday. In all my years of reading this site I have never been pissed about a post. This one did it though.

    I get it. You have a beef with a few things. I have the same beef. Especially with copyright. However, you should have stuck with your first instinct about snarky. Giving free books to kids is a good thing. It should be applauded and encouraged. Could more be done, sure. How about writing a reasoned piece about what that more could be. This just comes off as petty.

  2. More than a decade ago I read an op-ed in the Washington Post Sunday Book Review (probably by Johnathan Yardley or Michael Dirda) that the best way to get kids to read was to have parents who read. In short, if kids see Mom and Dad reading books, they are more likely to gain an interest in books than if Mom are Dad, whiling watching the boob tube, tell the kids to go read a book it’s good for you.

    Is World Book Day making the same kind of mistake? By targeting the books towards children aren’t they implicitly saying that reading is for children? Or is the method to their madness like the cigarette ads of yore that marketed to kids to get them hooked young?

    • @Greg M, it’s funny. I read all the same stuff when my son was little. My husband and I both read and read lots while our son was small. It didn’t work for him. He reads and reads well (he’s a philosophy major), but as far as I can tell, he doesn’t read for pleasure. Small disappointment.

  3. Maybe because World Book Day was targeting young readers, http://www.worldbooknight.org has targeted adults?

    Personally, I like the idea of doing them both on the same day better than doing them a month and half apart.

    As a kid, I remember my mom being quite angry with my dad for reading as there was always something else he should have been doing. It is lovely to see my mom finally have an opportunity to read during her retirement thanks to eink (adjustable fonts!) and more time.

The TeleRead community values your civil and thoughtful comments. We use a cache, so expect a delay. Problems? E-mail newteleread@gmail.com.