World Book Day, the charity behind the world’s biggest annual celebration of books and reading, has today revealed an all-encompassing range of titles for 2020 as it announced ambitious plans for next year’s campaign.
Speaking at the Bookseller Children’s Conference, World Book Day Director Kirsten Grant pledged that the charity would continue its mission to get more books into the hands of more children and young people in the country than ever before and to encourage them to Share a Story, introducing a new mass participation initiative – Share a Million Stories – aiming to reach the widest demographic yet.
This year’s list of books is the most diverse to date and packed with best- selling authors and illustrators, and much-loved characters and brands. International bestseller Anthony Horowitz returns to the secret world of MI6 with new classified files from Alex Rider in the 20th anniversary year of the young superspy, Onjali Q. Raúf, founder of Making Herstory and multi-award- winning author of The Boy at the Back of the Class, brings us the tale of Ahmet, the Most Famous Refugee Boy in the World in The Day We Met the Queen, and a new novel from million-copy-bestselling author Matt Haig sees eleven-year-old Evie, who readers will remember from Evie and The Animals, taking a trip to the Amazon rainforest.
There are three epic Dog Man stories from Captain Underpants creator Dav Pilkey, BBC stars Greg James and Chris Smith’s Kid Normal tackles a mega- loud mystery in a library, pre-school TV favourite Bing gets wet in a Splashy Story and Supertato will be taking on Evil Pea who has declared that books are rubbish! Bestseller Robin Stevens has penned a new Murder Most Unladylike Mystery in The Case of the Drowned Pearl. Laura Ellen Anderson also delivers a fabulous new Amelia Fang adventure featuring a gang of bookworms.
For older readers there is empowering new non-fiction from author of You Are Awesome, award-winning journalist and former Olympian, Matthew Syed, The Kissing Booth (one of Netflix’s most successful films of 2018) continues in The Kissing Booth: Road Trip! by Beth Reekles, and Split, a powerful story about fifteen-year-old Salma Hashbi who must stand up and fight back after a humiliating misunderstanding, by author of I am Thunder and winner of the Branford Boase award, Muhammad Khan.
The 2020 titles line-up is completed by Where are you Puffling? An Irish Adventure by Gerry Daly and Erika McGann which is exclusively available as a picture book for Ireland as well as two additional books in Welsh: Darllen gyda Cyw by Anni Llŷn and Stori Cymru – laith a Gwaith by Myrddin ap Dafydd. Designed to be as accessible as possible, the list is available in braille, large print and audio formats from the RNIB and Guide Dogs.
World Book Day is an extraordinary collaboration between the UK and Ireland’s bookselling and publishing industries, generously supported by sponsor National Book Tokens. Its three-year Share a Story campaign was initiated in 2018 specifically to drive the reading for pleasure message beyond the school gates, with a call to action for parents, families and carers to find ten minutes every day to Share a Story with children in their care. Sharing stories together for just ten minutes a day has long- lasting positive effects on a child’s future and creates readers for life.
World Book Day 2020 aims to take this a step further, encouraging fun but meaningful mass- participation across the UK and Ireland by asking schools, bookshops, libraries and children, young people and families at home to share and record online over a million stories throughout the month of the World Book Day book token redemption period.
Kirsten Grant, Director of World Book Day said: ‘World Book Day will start a reading revolution in 2020, taking our Share a Story message out to parents, schools, bookshops, libraries and every child and young person, encouraging them to get involved and help us to Share a Million Stories. Research shows that it takes at least 21 days to form new habits, and we want to do just that by encouraging repeated story-sharing for the whole of World Book Day month, a great window of time to develop new behaviours and habits around books, reading and sharing stories.’
The charity confirmed the return of its Share a Story Live events, taking authors and illustrators back out on the road to areas challenged with high poverty and low literacy levels, revisiting National Literacy Trust hubs in Manchester and Glasgow and travelling for the first time to Middlesbrough and Bexhill-on-Sea (in association with the hub in Hastings) to excite, inspire and involve the widest possible demographic of children.
Grant also announced new plans to connect with more difficult-to-reach children and young people, with the charity distributing the World Book Day titles to all HM prisons in the UK for the first time, giving away 24,000 books to children visiting parents in prison.
In 2019, the World Book Day campaign was bigger and better than ever. #WorldBookDay dominated the online conversation as high-profile champions took the Share a Story message to their millions of fans, #ShareaStory trended for the first time on Twitter and worldbookday.com had the highest number of visitors since its relaunch in 2012. More book tokens were redeemed than ever before and the National Literacy Trust’s annual literacy survey for 2019 showed that children who took part in World Book Day activities were more likely to enjoy reading, to read daily outside class, to enjoy shared reading and to go on to read independently, than those who didn’t take part.
Jonathan Douglas, Director National Literacy Trust, said: ‘Making children into readers is not just about giving them skills, it’s also about changing their behaviours. World Book Day shares this illusive challenge with Change for Life and other national campaigns. Brilliantly, World Book Day research undertaken in 2018 and 2019 (with Nielsen’s Understanding the Children’s Book Consumer, 2018 and National Literacy Trust’s annual literacy survey, 2019) suggests that World Book Day is making real headway in addressing the holy grail of changing reading behaviours. By creating an appetite for reading and putting books in children’s hands it is achieving lasting impact, especially for children from disadvantaged communities who need and deserve it most.’
Stephen Lotinga, Chair of World Book Day and CEO of the Publishers Association, said: ‘Publishers are passionate advocates of reading for pleasure and they demonstrate this every year by coming together with authors, illustrators, booksellers and librarians to share stories in the world’s biggest celebration of books and reading. On World Book Day 2020, we hope to get more books into the hands of more children and young people than ever before.’
Meryl Halls, Managing Director of the Booksellers Association, said: ‘We’re delighted to see such a wide range of great titles for next year, and booksellers will be looking forward to taking the World Book Day message out to schools, and to reaching new readers. Bookshops are fantastic front line advocates for the World Book Day message of reading for pleasure for every child, and they relish the engagement with children, with parents, with teachers; giving advice, creating community events and generally flying the flag for the impact and importance of books in children’s lives. World Book Day 2020 will give booksellers another reason to continue that ongoing conversation.’
Alex de Berry, Managing Director, National Book Tokens, said: ‘At its heart World Book Day has always been an activation campaign, with Share a Story going from strength to strength, World Book Day aims to expand its reach beyond schools and effect even greater positive behavioural change. We’re very proud of our association and of the support we are able to give.’
A new animated video featuring the World Book Day titles for 2020 can be found at worldbookday.com