Today (4th March) is World Book Day, and we love any opportunity to wax lyrical about the joys of reading. If your little ones are missing the chance to dress up, we have gathered some fun resources for discovering new stories. But why should they have all the fun? Reading is also a great way for grown ups to switch off and maybe enjoy explore new worlds from the comfort of your armchair - something we have a new appreciation for during a lockdown!
The Day Itself
The official World Book Day (WBD) website is packed with resources, including interactive video interviews with authors, and a selection of free audiobooks, all aimed at supporting reading for primary and secondary school aged readers. There's a great chance to stock up your shelves, as the WBD organisation is still running their annual £1 Books scheme. Over 15 million £1 book tokens have been distributed to schools - almost one for every child under 18 in the UK - which can be swapped for one of these free books (or used to get £1 off any other book of their choice) in participating booksellers - including Blackwell's on Broad Street and Mostly Books in Abingdon. The vouchers are valid until the end of the month, and if your child hasn't received a voucher, they can still claim a free book - limited to one each, so that everyone has a chance!
A natural place to visit today is the Story Museum, and while they can't be physically open, they have lots of story-based fun on their Youtube channel, with their series of Story Heroes: interviews with beloved authors including Malorie Blackman (Noughts & Crosses) and current Children's Laureate, Cressida Cowell (How to Train your Dragon).
Children's cancer charity CLIC Sargent are raising funds on the day (and up to 7th March) with their Good Books auction, where loads of literary goodies are up for grabs, such as signed books, and opportunities to name a character in your favourite author's next book!
Reading all year round
The Open University have a Reading For Pleasure resources bank which is great for supporting young readers, during school closures and beyond. Check out their Reading Together Treasure Hunt if your young reader needs a bit more encouragement - it's designed to highlight how there's reading material in unexpected places like takeaway menus, food packaging and board games.
While they remain unable to open fully, Oxfordshire Libraries have established a comprehensive Click & Collect service. You can order specific books or, if you'd like more inspiration, you can let the librarians know your tastes and they'll put together a personalised selection.
Another great way to discover new works - with the added benefit of socialising and supporting a great cause - is Homeless Oxfordshire's new online Book Club. They meet monthly, with the book set well in advance so you can fit reading around your other commitments, and the subscription fee supports the charity's work with homeless people, so you can fittingly 'help someone else start a new chapter'!
If you're looking to diversify your child's reading list, to help them experience stories from a wider range of traditions and perspectives, check out Oxford Poetry Library's Many Voices Collection, made up of books by Black authors and/or which centre Black characters.
Looking for a new volunteering opportunity? ARCh (Assisted Reading for Children) Oxfordshire trains people to spend time in schools supporting kids who are struggling to learn to read. There are innumerable benefits to the children who receive this help, in terms of confidence, self esteem and educational success, so it's a hugely rewarding process. ARCh is currently recruiting and delivering training over Zoom, with a view to mentors being able to get back into schools as soon as is safe.
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Like others, we've found we have more time for reading as we're not out and about so much these days! Here's what the team have enjoyed recently:
Jen (Director): "I'm reading a fabulous book. It's Felicity Cloake's One More Croissant For The Road, a gastronomic tour of France mostly by bike, and a bit by train. It's very funny, making me giggle out loud at some extraordinary characters, exchanges and museums. As well as lively anecdotes and vivid pencil portraits the book is peppered with recipes and cycling incidents, and since I happen to agree with her assessment that one of the (many) joys of cycling is the working up of an appetite and the justification for eating plenty, I'm loving all its aspects. Of course at the moment it's tantalising because I don't know when we'll next get to travel, and I can't nip out and buy ingredients to make the recipes quite so easily either. On the other hand following her route by reading about it in bed is definitely easier than riding every km, suffering every mosquito and rain shower. Cloake (known for her Cook the Perfect series in The Guardian) is obviously an optimistic character, taking enjoyment from most situations, and would clearly make a great travelling companion."
Hetty (junior member of the DI family): "I really like the Star Friends series by Linda Chapman. The Star Friends are girls who to fight Shades: evil spirits conjured from the shadows to harm people. I like it because they are magical
I also like the Isadora Moon series by Harriet Muncaster. I like them because Isadora is half fairy, half vampire and she goes on loads of places. My favourite book is where she meets a mermaid."
Anna (Communications): "I recently finished The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. It's pure escapism, an intricately detailed yet compulsively-paced page turner. There's a nightmarish quality where you get a sense of ill-fated decisions falling into place - so it's certainly not a relaxing read - but it's a rare experience that a story so cinematic in its plot is simultaneously so beautifully rendered."