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World Book Day invites everyone to its 25th birthday celebrations

Charity World Book Day turns 25 today, Thursday 3rd March 2022, and is inviting everyone to its party celebrating the past, present and future of children’s reading.

Reading for pleasure is the biggest indicator of a child’s future success – more than their family circumstances, their parents’ educational background or their income[1] – however, it is in decline and at its lowest level since 2005.

Supported by long-term sponsor National Book Tokens, World Book Day’s 25th anniversary will be marked with an extensive programme of celebratory, inclusive and accessible activities, to inspire children and their families to see themselves as readers.

Alongside this, there will be more opportunities than ever for children to experience owning a book of their choice, bought from their local bookseller, and by World Book Day improving access to books across schools, libraries, community centres, prisons and beyond.

Nadhim Zahawi, Education Secretary

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said:

“It is fantastic to see children from around the world marking World Book Day by dressing up as a character from their favourite book.

“Reading for pleasure is a key indicator of a child’s future success, which is why I want to see more children learning to read from a young age, whatever their background.

“I am determined to meet our ambitious target for 90 per cent of children leaving primary school at the expected standards in reading and writing by 2030. I would encourage any child who is struggling to find enjoyment from reading to open a book on something they really love – whether that is animals, sports or superheroes.”

Cassie Chadderton, CEO of World Book Day comments:

“This milestone anniversary is an important moment for the charity to reflect on the last 25 years and look forward to the future. We will be engaging with more children than ever to promote reading for pleasure. 

“There are still 400,000 children in the UK who don’t have a book of their own, so our focus is to ensure as many children as possible receive a World Book Day £1 book this year, alongside providing lots of opportunities for everyone to celebrate and read together.”

Chadderton continues: “World Book Day and its partners, including booksellers and publishers, help provide books to children who need them most in the UK, Ireland and across the world. We’re thrilled that so many will be taking part on our 25th birthday. This will help us ensure we reach more communities, families and children, and help them discover a love for reading.”

The World Book Day 2022 programme includes:

McDonald’s Happy Meal® promotion and partnership

This year, McDonald’s is extending its existing partnership with World Book Day by supporting it across all UK restaurants. The £1 book token will feature on every single World Book Day themed Happy Meal® box between 2nd-15th March, ensuring over 5.3 million tokens are available during this time. The core promotion will be featured in-store across animated menu screens, order kiosks and McDonald’s drive-thru outdoor banners with the strapline, ‘Open up a world of fun’.

Children and families visiting McDonald’s on World Book Day (3rd March) will also have the opportunity to receive a FREE book alongside their Happy Meal®  purchase – either Mr Silly: My Book About Me (Penguin Random House) or There’s A Wolf In My Book by Tom Fletcher (Penguin Random House). Books will be available while stocks last.

Harry Potter and World Book Day competition

To celebrate the 25th anniversaries of both Harry Potter and World Book Day in 2022, Bloomsbury Children’s Books has partnered with World Book Day to feature an exclusive competition on the printed £1 book token celebrating 25 years in print for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. This will offer fans a chance to win a magical Harry Potter trip, as well as runners up prizes of Harry Potter books and National Book Tokens. The £1 book token is distributed through schools, nurseries and via BookTrust and the Scottish BookTrust.

Additionally, World Book Day will be featured in the National Literacy Trust and Bloomsbury’s ‘Miles of Magic’ campaign in March, and will receive support across social media from Harry Potter partner channels including Wizarding World and the Harry Potter Studio Tour, to bring messaging around the campaign and charity values to a wider audience.

Premier League and National Literacy Trust

75 professional football club community organisations in England and Wales will distribute 22,000 £1 books to schools through the Premier League Primary Stars programme, in the lead up to World Book Day.

World Book Day in partnerships to reach more children 

The National Literacy Trust’s 15 Hub Areas in England will work alongside local libraries and retailers to distribute 34,000 £1 books to children and create a World Book Day programme of events and activities to encourage more families to read. This work is funded by an Arts Council England project grant for 2020-21 and McDonald’s, and supported by Libraries Connected and by donations of the 2022 £1 books from publishers.

World Book Day will also continue to work with partners including Read For Good and Children’s Books Ireland to supply 43,000 books to schools, prisons and other community spaces in need, to encourage reading and improved literacy.

Scottish Book Trust will ensure 3,000 picture books reach families directly through their Bookbug for the Home programme, as well as distributing 84,000 tokens to Early Years settings in Scotland. BookTrust are also distributing 90,000 £1 book tokens via their BookStart coordinators.

Widespread partner activity

There will also be support from a huge ranging of existing partners in 2022, including Sainsbury’s, Beano, Royal Mail, BBC Education, Libraries Connected and ASCEL (The Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians) plus new partners to be announced, as well as a large number of competitions and promotions across children’s magazines. Twitter will also support the campaign with a brand new World Book Day 25th birthday hashtag emoji.

To ensure it’s easy for everyone to take part in World Book Day 2022 and to encourage a celebration of reading, there will also be a suite of online resources available on the World Book Day website, including activity sheets and discussion guides for teachers, parents and carers.

As a charity, World Book Day is always looking to welcome new organisations and brands to share their resources and events as partners, as well as fundraising.

There will also be an extensive programme of events and ambassador activity:

WORLD BOOK DAY LIVE with Matilda and friends

On Monday 28th February at 11am, a very special live streamed event is taking place to celebrate World Book Day’s 25th birthday. Long-term partners Roald Dahl Story Company, Royal Shakespeare Company and Puffin are working together to ensure children everywhere can join in the fun.

Classrooms throughout the UK will be tuning into the star-studded World Book Day birthday event, featuring a number of World Book Day £1 book authors – including not one but two Children’s Laureates, Cressida Cowell and Chris Riddell. They will be joined by some of the cast of the RSC’s  ‘Matilda The Musical’ on stage at the Cambridge Theatre, London for a celebration of reading inspired by the book-loving heroine. Hosted by rapper MC Grammar and live-streamed from the World Book Day website, the celebration will also feature, Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Humza Arshad MBE, Allen Fatimaharan, & Hannah Lee plus others yet to be announced. There will also be a celebratory reading from the book Matilda by a member of the cast of ‘Matilda The Musical’, plus a very special live performance from the show.

Additionally, two further digital events will be available through the World Book Day website on Wednesday 2nd and Thursday 3rd March, to ensure schools and families nationwide can celebrate together. These will feature £1 book authors and illustrators including Nathan Bryon & Dapo Adeola, Simon Farnaby, Sharna Jackson and Nadia Shireen reading and sharing their favourite stories. All three of these events can be accessed at and it is not necessary to sign up in advance.

Brand new MC Grammar song and performances

Award-winning teacher and star of Sky Kids Wonder Raps MC Grammar (Jacob Mitchell) returns with his second World Book Day song Reading Is Amazing, a follow up to The World Book Day song which was viewed over 850,000 times on You Tube last year.The song, commissioned by Sky Kids and produced by Monkey, which is part of Universal International Studios, a division of Universal Studio Group, will lead a curated collection of TV shows on Sky Kids inspired by children’s authors.

#PassthePen challenge

Highlighting the importance of all children seeing themselves and their world reflected in the books they read, and being inspired by diverse and inclusive stories from authors and illustrators who are representative of the society we live in, World Book Day will partner with BookTrust and current Waterstones Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell MBE on a special edition of their #PassThePen campaign.

Designed to help promote visibility, champion new voices and generate book sales World Book Day legacy authors and illustrators of the last 25 years will be paired with up-and-coming writers and illustrators of colour. Expect to see Lydia Monks, Nathan Bryon & Dapo Adeola and Ben Bailey-Smith among others hand over their accounts.

BBC Education Live Lesson

We’re collaborating with BBC Education on a Live Lesson which will be shown live on CBBC and the BBC Teach website on World Book Day. The fun-packed lesson is presented by Ben Shires alongside Nathan Byron and Dapo Adeola, with very special guest Frank Cottrell-Boyce who will be answering kids’ questions live.

You Are A Reader social media campaign

Alongside this, there will also be a range of activities in the lead up to and on the day itself, including a widespread You Are A Reader social media campaign, where World Book Day legacy authors, influencers and talent from TV, film, music and literature will share their favourite stories and encourage children and their families to find themselves in books and enjoy reading together regularly.

Bookshop celebrations

Keep your eyes peeled for official World Book Day illustrator, Allen Fatimaharan, who will embark on a two-day window tour of bookshops in the West of England between Oxford and Bristol in February. Allen will hand-draw on shopfront windows, inspired by World Book Day, to help high streets celebrate the 25th birthday. Bookshops across the country will also be welcoming children and families and local communities in for special World Book Day 25th Birthday events.

Getting Involved

Thanks to National Book Tokens, working alongside publishers and booksellers, World Book Day distributes over 15 million £1/€1.50 book tokens across the UK and Ireland every year through schools, nurseries, libraries, prisons and other charities. The single-use digital token can also be downloaded from the World Book Day website.

Tokens can be redeemed for any £1 book from Thursday 17 February – Sunday 27 March 2022 in bookshops, bookshop chains and supermarkets. Alternatively, they can also be used as a £1/€1.50 contribution to any other book.

Finally, charity and industry leaders are invited to share their thoughts on what the future looks like in 2047 (in 25 years) if more children have become readers, to contribute to an ongoing advocacy project for the 25th anniversary.

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