World Book Day 2021: Building a love of books virtually

Every year, the first week of March brings World Book Day! This year, things are a little different to say the least. Although this week brought news of full school opening and the roadmap out of all this, we’re still faced with a World Book Day in lockdown.

This blog will bring you lots of resources that will enhance your World Book Day, whether it is celebrated at school or at home.
World Book Day banner.
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Every year, the first week of March brings World Book Day! This year, things are a little different to say the least. Although this week brought news of full school opening and the roadmap out of all this, we’re still faced with a World Book Day in lockdown. Thankfully, books and a love of reading can transcend the current situation, enabling us to visit new worlds, explore new places and experience new things. Books have always been a vehicle for this and this year this is even more important.

World Book Day is a chance to celebrate the unending power of books. Although books should be celebrated every day, not just on World Book Day, the worldwide focus allows us to all come together and share our love of reading. The benefits of Reading for Pleasure are well-known, yet still too few children do not enjoy reading. The National Literacy Trust report into Reading before and during the COVID-19 lockdown, showed an encouraging trend, with the percentage of children saying they enjoyed reading increasing from 47.8% to 55.9%. However, that still leaves almost half of all 9-18 year olds not enjoying reading. Many schools are doing sterling work to build a love of Reading, but we still must do more, and World Book Day is one way in which to help. By committing to encouraging every child to love reading, we can positively affect wellbeing, empathy, cultural capital, communication, attainment and life chances.

This graphic from The Reading Agency’s Literature Review: The impact of reading for pleasure and empowerment report (2015) shows just how many areas of life reading for pleasure can impact:

A diagram illustrating the external, social and personal outcomes of reading for pleasure.

Celebrating World Book Day can make a huge difference to your pupils and their enjoyment of reading. It has the power to make reading accessible and exciting. Every school does it differently, but what’s important is that we encourage every single child to find a book they love and encourage them to enjoy reading. So, however you do it, celebrating World Book Day is a must! We know that planning your event this year is made more challenging by lockdown, but one of the great things about books is that they can be accessed and celebrated in so many different ways!

Here are some of our favourite lockdown friendly World Book Day activities to try:

Book in a Jar

Challenging children to create their own book jar can be a fantastic way of encouraging children to communicate about their favourite texts. By using a jar, or any receptacle, children can explore a favourite scene or collate objects that relate to the text.

A Big Friendly Giant toy in a jar.

Book in a Jar Example from Holy Family Catholic Primary School, Surrey

Book Bingo

Book Bingo can be a great way of getting children to try something new in their reading journey. You could create a book bingo focused on spotting characters or settings, or reading a range of different texts, perhaps in different situations.

A book bingo worksheet.

Book Hunt

Like @MissGrahamTeach, why not run a book hunt at home. You could do this using physical book covers or by hiding book covers in your virtual lessons and resources! You could even plan a secret message for the children to find too.

Printed instructions explaining the rules of the Book Cover Hunt, alongside printed pictures of book covers.

Book Cover Hunt, by @MissGrahamTeach

Books in Windows

Children could create their own depiction of a scene from a book or a book cover and share it in their window. The community could be encouraged to go on a book hunt to view the children’s recommendations and find the books!

An illustrated giraffe decorating house windows.

Leamington Book Character Hunt

Miniature Books

Encouraging children to make their own miniature books and fill them with a favourite story or even their own story, is another wonderful way to celebrate books.

A scan of the journal Charlotte Bronte used to write in.

Image of earliest known writings of Charlotte Brontë (Bonnell 78) © Brontë Parsonage Museum

The British Library website includes resources and step by step tutorials to help you.

Story Stones

Story stones are a wonderful way of encouraging retelling and summarising. You can challenge children to paint a scene on a pebble which sums up the book they have been reading, or you can challenge them to paint multiple pebbles with different scenes or elements of the story, such as a character or setting. You could even use your completed stones as part of a community story hunt. Once decorated, children could choose a place to leave them, with everyone encouraged to find the stones and record their location.

Animals, flowers and other natural symbols painted onto stones.

Nature Story Stones, The Scottish Wildlife Trust

The Masked Reader

The popularity of The Masked Singer has spawned a new trend called The Masked Reader. Perfect for virtual World Book Day sessions, this takes the idea of the ‘secret reader’ and uses masks, sound effects and filters to disguise the person reading to the class. Children not only get to enjoy being read to, but also have the added excitement of guessing the masked reader’s identity!

Vegetable Book Characters

Since Supertato was published, more and more schools are encouraging children to choose their favourite book character to ‘dress up’ in vegetable form.

A potato painted to look like Mr Bump from the Mr Men book series.

Potato Book Character, Thornton in Craven Community Primary School

You could even take this one step further, and challenge children to create their own Arcimboldo inspired vegetable and fruit painting of a favourite character.

A painted portrait of a man, made out of fruit and vegetables.

“Vertumnus” by Giuseppe Arcimboldo. Skokloster Castle, Skokloster, Sweden

Other Resources

As always, the World Book Day website has a raft of resources for you to pick up and use. This year the resources focus on their Author and Illustrator Academy.

A banner for Author & Illustrator Academy.

The website includes fantastic videos from a wide range of authors and illustrators, giving masterclasses and top tips for budding authors. These resources would be a wonderful way of linking reading to writing on World Book Day and in your wider English teaching.

There are other amazing resources out there. Our friends at Pobble have created a fantastic poster showcasing 25 book-loving activities to do without a screen.

25 book-based activities that do not involve a screen.

You can download your own copy here

As always, generous children’s authors are filling the internet with free resources and video messages. Sophie Anderson, S.F. Said, Joseph Coelho and Abi Elphinstone are just some of the authors who have filmed videos. Sophie and Gavin Hetherington have also been organising an amazing video featuring 150 authors, coming soon!

Sharing these videos with children is a fantastic way of them delving deeper into texts, and ultimately, connecting the books they read with the authors who write them, and who knows, maybe inspiring them to become an author themselves. After World Book Day is over, why not keep up momentum by booking a virtual author visit?

The One Education Reading Award is full to the brim of resources to support you develop reading for pleasure in your school. The Reading Award supports you to enhance your whole school reading provision to build engagement and help children to become resilient readers who love reading.

A Reading for Pleasure ideas bank.

With over 250 resources, including this Reading for Pleasure Ideas Bank, plus research-led accreditation criteria and expert support, the Reading Award is a fantastic way to prioritise reading in your setting. If you would like more information about the Reading Award, please contact me at

We know that Reading is a huge priority for many schools at the moment. With that in mind, we are running our popular Early Reading and Phonics in A Reading Rich Curriculum course on the 5th March and 29th April. This two-day online course will explore the importance of early reading and phonics in a ‘Reading Rich’ curriculum that values the importance of reading as a crucial life skill. It will explore key subject knowledge and a wide range of strategies for early reading across every area of the curriculum, including a key focus on reading for pleasure. To book your place please visit our Training Courses page.

But, as always, the most important way to celebrate World Book Day is to read books! Read, read and read some more! Make sure your pupils see you read and give them as many chances to read as possible. Books aren’t just for World Book Day, we need to celebrate them every day!

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