Promoting a love of reading for all on World Book Day and beyond

Promoting a love of reading for all on World Book Day and beyond
Today on World Book Day, SSAT Senior Education Lead, Laura Burton, reflects upon the power of reading for pleasure and shares how schools within the Primary Network promote a love of reading whilst ensuring accessibility for all pupils.

I have always loved books. My earliest and fondest memories include classic children’s literature: memorising and then reciting Potter’s Miss Tiggywinkle at family gatherings as a young child; my Dad sharing Tarka’s adventures at bedtime; daydreaming about life at Blyton’s Malory Towers. I was lucky to have parents and teachers who introduced me to magical worlds and inspiring characters which unlocked many doors and opportunities.

As a teacher and leader, it became my mission to do the same for the pupils I had the privilege of serving over the 20 years working within primary schools. From building reading curriculums featuring classic and contemporary books aimed to inspire, to fundraising for books to ensure that all children could enjoy the same escapism as I did all those years ago, I always placed reading for pleasure central to my vision.

Research published by The National Literacy Trust in November 2023 reported that one in five children aged 5 – 8 did not have a book of their own at home and the gap in book ownership between those children who receive Free School Meals and their peers who do not is at its largest in a decade. The continued impact of the cost-of-living crisis places additional barriers to families’ ability to support their child’s reading at home, with one in three parents who were struggling financially reporting they were buying fewer books for their children1. The role of schools in promoting and facilitating a love of reading for pleasure for all our pupils, every day, has never been so important.

Today is a day that, for many years, has become a firm feature on the primary school calendar of events: World Book Day. A day that celebrates and promotes a love of reading with book based activities, book tokens and resources to encourage children and young people to enjoy reading for pleasure and explore the world of literature.

As a school leader, my team and I would throw ourselves into the day, planning a range of activities to immerse our pupils into all things book related as we understood the significant and powerful impact reading for pleasure had on the personal, emotional and educational outcomes of our children and the power of keeping reading high profile across the school.

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The picture shared by the National Literacy Trust research is a reality that is reflected in our primary classrooms across the country. It is therefore important to consider how our reading provision, as well as our celebrations on World Book Day, are fully inclusive and accessible to all pupils.

Members of the Primary Network share ways they are promoting and celebrating reading, both on World Book Day, and across the rest of the year.

Sarah Jack, Executive Headteacher at Culverstone Green Primary School in Kent, shared some of the ways her team will encourage pupils to ‘Read your Way’ on World Book Day, building on their year round approaches to promoting reading for pleasure. School based activities, including a ‘book bistro’ which gives pupils opportunity to ‘taste’ and explore a range of new books help immerse children in the world of literature and their ‘Big Read’ invites parents and carers into school at the end of the day to read with their child, sharing books together.

Tees Valley Education (TVEd) are a multi-academy trust based in the North East of England. TVEd have social justice and equity as one of the core Trust specialisms, with poverty-informed practice driving much of what TVEd academies do day-to-day.

Research and Development Lead, Sean Harris, shared some of the ways the Trust celebrate books and reading on World Book day and beyond in cost-effective, accessible ways for all pupils across their academies:

The TVEd Book Awards provide children the opportunity to vote for their favourite text they have accessed within school across the year, with authors invited to attend the award ceremony, along with children, families and staff.

Instead of asking pupils to dress up, children are invited throughout World Book Day to claim free books from their academy libraries and are issued with book tokens to buy their own books. 

The Trust works closely with Drake The Bookshop, an independent book shop in the North East. TVEd help to raise awareness of and promote a pay-it-forward scheme in the shop which allows families to claim free books for reading and still experience the joy of going into the shop to ‘buy’ the book for free.

How are you celebrating and promoting a love of reading for pleasure at your school? To share your practice and approaches with the Primary Network, email

Further information

1 Children and young people’s book ownership in 2023 – National Literacy Trust (2023)

To read more about TVEd’s poverty-informed principles and practice, you can hear from Sean at last year’s SSAT Primary Network Conference or read more in Sean’s article in SecEd. You can contact Sean directly at

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