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News story

World Book Day visits Swindon with official author event to give children the gift of reading

01 Mar 2023

Tom Percival at Swindon WBD event

The National Literacy Trust and the charity World Book Day® hosted an official World Book Day celebratory event on 1 March in Swindon to engage local children with reading and raise literacy levels in the area.

Official World Book Day® author-illustrator Tom Percival visited children at Mountford Manor Primary School to inspire their love of reading and make sure every child leaves school with a book of their own. This is part of the National Literacy Trust’s campaign to deliver 38,000 World Book Day books directly to children who may otherwise struggle to access them and encourage reading for pleasure.

Hosting a fun-filled session of storytelling, sing-a-longs, and draw-a-longs based on his book Billy’s Bravery (Bloomsbury), Tom’s interactive style immersed the children in the magical world of superhero stories. A pop-up bookshop provided by Waterstones was installed for every child to use their book token and choose a free book to take home.

The National Literacy Trust works to remove the financial and social barriers stopping families from engaging with books and literacy. The National Literacy Trust’s literacy hub in Swindon, Swindon Stories, has been working in the area for five years to increase literacy levels and spark a joy of reading. In 2022, nearly a quarter of 11-year-olds in Swindon left primary school without reaching the expected levels of reading or writing (22% and 23% respectively). By helping to provide more access to books for children and young people, World Book Day plays a pivotal role in helping to engage children and families in the joy and benefits of reading for pleasure, and ultimately lead to improved literacy skills that can benefit a child for the rest of their lives.

“Bringing an intimate event with a talented and engaging storyteller, such as Tom Percival, to one of our town’s schools is hugely beneficial to the children and will help engage them with storytelling and literacy. The free World Book day books are more important now than ever before, as many families may struggle to afford books, or even have the time and energy to visit a bookshop, when so much else demands their attention. By going directly into schools, we ensure every child is able to celebrate World Book Day and walk away with a World Book Day book in their hands. Swindon Stories have worked to make literacy accessible and inclusive in our community for the last five years. An event like this truly brings our work to life.”

Anish Harrison, Hub Manager for Swindon Stories

“Drawing and writing brought me so much joy when I was growing up in rural South Shropshire. Sharing my love of stories, of creating and visiting imaginary worlds, is such an important part of my work as an author and an illustrator. This is even more important for children who struggle to access books and who might not have books of their own at home. That’s why I really believe in the work that the National Literacy Trust and World Book Day are doing to make sure every child has the opportunity to fall in love with books and stories.”

Tom Percival, author of World Book Day £1 book Billy’s Bravery

This community-based activity is just one example of the work the National Literacy Trust does with families from disadvantaged areas on World Book Day and every other day, 365 days a year, for 30 years. Engaging families and children who need support on World Book Day can open them up to a lifetime love of books and reading, improve their literacy levels, and break the intergenerational cycle of poverty.

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