March 3, 2022 is World Book Day.
Created by UNESCO on the 23rd April, 1995, World Book Day was designated as a day to celebrate books and reading. The day is recognized in over 100 countries around the world.
Allen Fatimaharan is this year’s official illustrator for WBD.
When considering notable days (and heritage months) it’s easy to swipe past, or use them as magnets for social media interaction. The intent is usually good. As a past classroom teacher, author and publisher of children’s books however, I know our intent is never enough to create real change.
World Book Day’s founder is Baroness Gail Rebuck. Her Jewish grandfather was a refugee, born in Latvia, who along with Rebuck’s father worked in the London textile trade. Her grandfather was illiterate, and perhaps this was a driving force in her work to create space for accessibility to books, for all children. Today, British publisher Gail Ruth Rebuck is also chair of the British operations of the international publishing group Penguin Random House.
Literacy is transformational – it can remove barriers to opportunity and impact the financial security of entire communities, especially for historically marginalized people.
The recent Right to Read report highlights the inequities that continue to exist in Ontario’s public education system, particularly for those children with disabilities. As I have supported our young person through his schooling years, one thing that has guided my teaching philosophy through the challenges and high-five moments, is the knowledge that a child needs to understand (complex) language in every single subject, in order to feel successful. The extended time and space for Literacy needs to be embedded in all parts of the curriculum from the early years, and the depth of knowledge shared has to be broad and responsive.
Reading is a human right and text is political (in all its forms). Gatekeepers stand tall espousing their discomfort towards difference: race and faith identity with Bill 21, Gay rights with House Bill 1557 (and 15 other bills sharing the same harmful rhetoric) and the unprecedented number of banned books in the U.S. in 2021. When books inspire human conversations, those with power become fearful. That fear often targets literacy first.
This World Book Day and beyond, let words lead us to a better tomorrow. One where children read books about whatever they choose and can be fully themselves, without fear. One thing I know for sure is that I do not want our education system to go back to ‘normal’ (the disparities evident in pre-pandemic times). Cultural literacy is pivotal to a future without hate and violence. Cultural spaces and books representing the global majority are necessary. Our collective liberation lies in the impact of the stories we share, of evolving how we understand the world, so we can learn over again, how to be human.
To cite this post:
—. “World Book Day 2022 – Saffron Press.” Saffron Press, 3 Mar. 2022, saffronpress.com/world-book-day-2022/.
To read previous posts highlighting books to encourage conversations about the world, follow the following links: