There are lots of days in honour of different purposes, causes, reasons and needs. In fact there are so many now (there’s ‘a day’ for toasted marshmallows apparently) that it’s impossible to keep track of them all, even the significant ones.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I’m not a big Halloween person. Halloween is not ‘a day in honour of’ so much as a cultural tradition, especially in the States. If I’m being honest - I’m that person who is genuinely freaked out by the murdered corpse fake-vomiting blood into my child’s trick or treat basket. Honestly, it gives me nightmares. Yes, I know it’s fake. It still gives me nightmares. Plus the amount of sweets and candies they collect is indefensible. And my kids have food allergies. The whole thing is a nightmare EXCEPT for the dressing-up part. The children love thinking of costumes, of becoming somebody else for the day, making props, digging around the house and getting some glue and paints out. And because we are lucky to have a lot of books in our house, it’s become a family tradition for the kids to choose characters from some of their favourite stories.
Imagine my excitement when friends in England started telling me about World Book Day. World Book Day has become a thing in the UK. It is basically Halloween without dead bodies and candies. But if you dig a little deeper, it’s more than that. If you’re a reader of children’s literature or a writer of children’s literature and you’ve never heard of World Book Day (most of my American friends have not) then have a look at their website, link below. It’s brilliant.
There are interviews with writers like Malorie Blackman and Patrice Lawrence on connecting with your character, masterclasses on inspiration, poetry and world building, Jeff Kinney talking about writing funny, there are new releases for all ages on sale for $1 (actually it’s a pound, but I can’t find the pound symbol on my American laptop) quizzes, story ideas, writing prompts, book lists and resources for librarians and teachers.
Children all over the country go to school for the day in costume, read books and talk about books. It prompts important conversations about the immeasurable value of libraries, inclusivity, diversity and equity in children’s literature, books, writing and the importance of sharing stories, for fun. For fun.