Children’s Book Week: a chance to read for fun and not just for tests

Published on: 04 November 2016 Author: Sophie Offord

Bringing back story time and teachers dressing up as bananas - these are just some of the ways you've made reading ridiculously fun this week.

Children's Book Week: A teacher dressed as a banana

Every year, BookTrust runs a special celebration of stories called Children's Book Week.

As ever, this year's event has seen us joined by schools, libraries and families - all united in our efforts to inspire a love of reading in children.

It may just have been our best one yet.

And here's why it's so important.

Reading matters

We know that focusing on simple literacy alone isn't enough. It's a love of reading that matters.

Children who enjoy reading will read more often - and doing so helps them do better at school, even in subjects like maths.

Reading for pleasure regularly even has a bigger impact on a child's educational achievement than having a parent with a degree.

Bring back story time

For all these reasons, Michael Morpurgo - one of Britain's best-loved children's storytellers - recently advocated for schools to reinstate story time at the end of every school day.

The War Horse author argued that testing in schools, while important, kills the joy of reading. During the early years, children must first experience the wonder and joy of storytelling.

At the BookTrust Annual Lecture, he said: 'Give them the love of the story first; the rest will follow.'

'The love of story'

We agree - the love of story is so important. That's why, for Children's Book Week, we've been holding author events around the country.

Our Writer-In-Residence Cressida Cowell, author of the How to Train Your Dragon series, ran reading sessions and interactive workshops at one primary school.

Cressida Cowell during Children's Book Week

She said:

'I really enjoy visiting schools and talking to children, and my message to them is that they can be writers or illustrators themselves. I began writing about Vikings when I was nine years old, and, decades later, those stories have evolved into a 12-book series, and a film and TV franchise.
'The other wonderful aspect to Children's Book Week is that it helps parents and schools working together to get children reading for pleasure. Reading a book with your kid (even after they can read independently) is an experience that will enrich both your lives.'

Meanwhile, Clare Foges and Al Murphy, authors of the fabulous Kitchen Disco, entertained children with their book about a bowl of fruit having a party. Very soon, the children were dancing along and trying to 'shake their pips'.

Afterwards, Soulef, aged 5, said:

'I was surprised by what they [the authors] were like, especially when they were playing with balloons. I knew they would be kind but I didn't think they would be so much fun!'

Other authors joining in with the celebrations were Sean Taylor, Jon Mayhew, Tom Percival, Paul Howard and Nick Butterworth.

Parents and teachers together

Schools and libraries all over the country have been showing their support and sharing their pictures (#childrensbookweek) in a bid to get children reading for pleasure. And families have also been getting involved.

Indeed, teachers have told us that parents and carers play such an important role in encouraging children to find reading fun.

That's why we have loads of tips and resources for you, as well as our Great Books Guide. It's crammed full with 60 books to get kids hooked, in case you're struggling to know what to pick that may be right for your child.

All it takes is just one book to connect with them - to entertain and help them understand their place in the world.

Working together, we can all help children reap the tremendous rewards and joys of reading.

Here's to next year's Children's Book Week!

Tips and advice

Get useful tips and advice about how to read as a family, setting up a great bedtime routine, and how to encourage reading in your school.

Have a look