It's World Book Day, and across the country children will be reading, writing, and in all likelihood dressed as Harry Potter. It's a day to celebrate books, to inspire young people, and hopefully support the cause that is reading.
As a children's author I regularly visit schools, to give talks and run workshops. It's not easy to get books noticed in the modern world, and it would be so easy to say that books can't compete with flashy films and dazzling computer games when placed in front of a child. But in my experience, that's not the case.
Even if it's just once a year, World Book Day shines the spotlight on how great children's books are. For some children, one day, one book even, is enough to instil a lifelong love of words, reading and stories, and I'm lucky enough to get first-hand experience of this.
When given the chance, it's all too clear to see that children love stories, they love adventures, and most of all they love to talk about them and ask questions. I really find that in most children there is a love of books, and often it's simply a case of drawing it out.
Contrary to some lines of thought, books are entertainment – a form of entertainment that you're allowed to like and consume at school! Imagine that?! And yet, unlike other media they actively require a reader to use his or her imagination. The reader becomes part of the scene, the director of the piece, and for a child that's a phenomenal thing.
As a child, from the safety of your own bed you can travel across the stars, sail the seas, laugh aloud or be scared to death, and ultimately you can be free. Books are freedom bound within paper walls, and for a child longing to grow up and experience life, there can be no better stepping stone.
So World Book Day is about letting children discover books while highlighting and revelling in the fact that yes, books are still important in our 21st Century.
Long live the children's book.
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