When you scroll through social media, you quickly realize that practically every day of the week marks a celebration of something. For example, did you know that February 18th is Thumb Appreciation Day or that May 9th is National Lost Sock Day? With so many fun ways to bring joy and to spark connections in your classroom, there is one holiday that educators will not want to pass up, and that’s World Book Day!
Since 1995, April 23 has been designated World Book Day by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). More than 100 countries highlight the enjoyment of reading books with this annual celebration, chosen by UNESCO because it’s the anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega (a prominent writer of Inca history and culture). And there’s a reason why. As famed “Game of Thrones” author George R.R. Martin said, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies… the man who never reads lives only one.”
So, why not bring this world-wide celebration of books to your classroom? Check out these ideas for how to celebrate:
- Dress up as a literary character: Organize a classroom —or full school—spirit day by asking students to dress like their favorite character from a book. You can have a parade, encourage read-alouds tied to their chosen characters, and take lots of pictures to commemorate the day. Penguin offers these easy 3-step costume hacks for some beloved characters.
- Create a book nook: You may already have a designated reading space in your classroom or home, take this opportunity to either dress it up or create a brand new space that is designated for quality reading time. We Are Teachers provides plenty of Pinterest-worthy inspiration.
- Do a book swap: Students can bring in a book, wrap it up, and do an anonymous swap with each other for a fun Friday afternoon activity. You might even consider hosting a book swap with your teacher colleagues or friends and family!
- Host a book club: Take some cues from Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, and Jenna Bush by hosting a classroom book club. Take student suggestions and facilitate questions about the book they’ve chosen.. Edutopia offers some suggestions for how best to coordinate a book club for your class. You can even create a book club for your friends.
- Start your own book: Your students likely are bursting with ideas for their own stories. Encourage free creative writing time—and don’t forget illustrations—and let their imaginations run wild. If students need some guidance, you can use some of these writing prompts from Book Riot.
- Play book-themed games: Your students can have a blast playing Emoji Pictionary to guess the book title. Free downloads are available with a quick online search. Or, go a bit more interactive by creating a book scavenger hunt. This Reading Mama offers printables that are a fit for either younger or older learners, and focus on concepts like identifying parts of a book and story elements.
- Go to the library: There’s nothing like a trip to the library to generate a love of books. If you have a library on campus, arrange for a library “tour” or a session where your students can interview your librarian about their career and their favorite books. You can also encourage visits to the local public library.
- Host a live author reading: Read-alouds bring books to life, and they’re even better if the author is doing the reading. Scholastic offers a guide for arranging an author visit at your school, or consider asking your local children’s book store for help.
- Book vs movie: It’s that age old debate…and your class can decide! Read a book together and then watch the movie (maybe allowing for some movie snacks, too). Then, you can put it to a class vote.
- Read, read, read: It may go without saying, but a love of reading doesn’t happen unless you spend time getting to know all kinds of books. Your students may not be excited about the current class selection, but maybe they’d love a science fiction story or a true tale about a figure from history. If they’re looking for recommendations, check out this list of recent releases from the Association for Library Services to Children.
Any of the above ideas can help inspire you outside of the classroom, too. Reading a book is often listed as a top way to prioritize self-care, and books can be enjoyed in endless ways with family and friends. And, now’s an especially great time to set aside some new books to add to your personal library with summer break right around the corner. Happy reading!