read books on world book day

Celebrate reading on World Book Day – don’t just dress up!

It’s World Book Day on Thursday 7th March – time for youngsters across the land to dress up as their favorite story characters and celebrate the pleasures of reading. Organised by UNESCO, this annual event also showcases publishing and copyright, and has been celebrated for almost a quarter of a century.

We know, we know. We’re always going on about the benefits of reading. But with so much evidence staring us in the face, we feel entirely justified!

Some of the statistics are startling. Research from personalised book specialists In the Book, for example, found that fewer than one in five adults reads to their child for a minimum of 20 minutes a day.

So, this year, while dressing up for World Book Day is undoubtedly fun, why not ensure you focus on the reading part, too?

World Book Day could offer, for example, the chance to think about the contents of your own library and whether your offspring are growing up with enough books at home. A new study, led by Dr Joanna Sikora of the Australian National University, questioned 160,000 adults between 2011 and 2015. It found that the most significant advances in adult literacy and numeracy and ICT skills were made from households with between 80 and 350 books.

Interestingly, no further gains were seen in homes with more than 350 volumes.

Scandinavians were reported to have the biggest personal libraries, with 14% of Norwegians and almost as many Swedes owning more than 500 books

What’s more, the resulting benefits go beyond what a child could achieve from their own education or help from their parents. So check your shelves or head for the local library or bookshop to make the most of available resources.

read books don't just dress up

Equally, while earning power is clearly not the only marker of a child’s future happiness, or the only reason you should read to your child, In the Book has published figures showing that, by reading to your child for 20 minutes a day, you can potentially boost their lifetime earnings by up to £500,000.

For young children, there’s no doubt that reading can, among other things, nurture the bond with the parent, help with concentration, communication and discipline, and give them a head start before they’ve even started school. You may not have realised that it can even help with basic speech skills.

Above all, you will be passing on the precious gift of appreciating that reading can (and should) be pleasurable.

However, it’s not just infants who benefit from parental involvement in their reading. While most teens might baulk at being read to by mum or dad, literary critic Meghan Cox Gurdon insists that storytime isn’t just for the little ones – here she describes reading to her 17-year-old.

It’s also worth asking your teenager often about what they’re reading, what they like or don’t like about their current material, and ensuring they’ve always got a book on the go. Talk about you’re reading yourself, too.

In the upper years of secondary school, the ability to identify language techniques and discuss literature will give your teenager a head start when it comes to official exams such as National 5, Higher, GCSE and A-level English.

So, this World Book Day, focus on words, plots, themes and characters – not just having the fanciest costume.

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