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World Book Day 2018

Student Life

World Book Day!

World Book Day is coming up super soon - 1st March to be precise. It might be a thing of the past for some people reading this, but it's definitely a day still close to my heart for many reasons.

Firstly though, for the people who don't know what World Book Day is, this is the 21st year of WBD, which is held annually by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) and promotes reading, publishing and copyright.

The first ever World Book Day was held on 23rd April 1995. The celebration originates from Catalonia, Spain, where booksellers associated 23rd April with the date of death of a prominent Spanish author, Miguel de Cervantes (who wrote Don Quixote, a novel that has since been translated into more languages than any other book except the Bible.) UNESCO decided to select this date as World Book Day as 23rd April is coincidentally also the day of death for quite a few other famous authors including William Shakespeare.

In the UK, the date has been moved to the first Thursday of March to avoid clashing with Easter school holidays and St George's Day, however, an independent organisation, The Reading Agency, holds World Reading Night on the original date.

Ah, the nostalgia...

I remember attending many World Book Days growing up, so it's a particularly nostalgic day for me, even though I don't read as much as I should be reading.

At the heart of it, it's about encouraging reading and literacy, particularly among children. Thanks to the generosity of National Book Tokens Ltd, millions of book tokens are sent out every year (some 15 million) which can be exchanged for a new, exclusive selection of books for absolutely free (or it can be used to get £1 off any book).

I've personally always gone for the free books as I grew up visiting libraries and borrowing them, so I never really got used to the concept of buying permanently. I can still vaguely remember the excitement of getting my very own token and then joining my classmates as we walked to the school library to see what books we could pick.

One year I decided to pick How to Train Your Viking by Toothless the Dragon (by Cressida Cowell) and I loved it. Incidentally, that was how I was introduced to the How to Train Your Dragon series, which was pretty amazing. It was eventually adapted into a move in 2010 and got a sequel in 2014. A third movie is apparently coming out in 2019.

Write then...

If you're a keen or aspiring writer, you should also look at World Book Day as an excuse or opportunity to write more as well (since technically WBD is supposed to also be about publishing and copyright, but I suppose these are less interesting to children). It's a very satisfying experience; splurging out thoughts into a form that can be transmitted over multiple media and read by someone else who could be millions of miles away.

Growing up I used to write a lot as well, and I actually published my own book when I was about 13. It was a contemporary fantasy novel about dragons (surprise, surprise) but set in the present day and there are conflicts between different factions and all that. It was roughly 89,000 words and took around two or three years to write, and one of my mum's friends helped me edit it.

There was a period partway through that when I just had a block and stopped writing for a while, but eventually, I returned to finish what I'd started. Let me tell you, nothing was more satisfying than finally seeing the printed result in a dark, navy blue hardback, with my name in a gold inscription on the spine.

Read your heart out

Reading can help you in many ways - reducing your stress, improving your creativity, or even just providing some quiet entertainment. You might not be tempted to go out and redeem a book token for a children's book, but encourage and support the kids that do, and while you're at it, go explore your local library - you might find something that interests you! I'll leave you with two recommendations.

First one, find a movie you like and see if it's based on a book. If it is, have a bash at reading it and see how it compares to the movie! I always find it interesting to compare the original books with their adapted films, and you might find you enjoy experiencing it in a different way.

If fiction books aren't your thing, then my other recommendation would be The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman, a cognitive scientist and usability engineer. This best-selling book takes a look at how important the design of objects is for communicating information to their users, and how they could potentially be optimised. Even if you're not interested in usability designs and all that, it's still a fascinating read and will help you appreciate all the well designed objects in life a little more.

Peace out!

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