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50 Simple World Book Day Ideas for Schools

5th March 2020


It's usually around this time of year that I see teachers asking and sharing their school's activities for World Book Day. It's easy to forget that this day is so much more than just dressing up and that there are tons of easy and fun bookish activities which you can run with little or no cost.

So alongside our round up of this year's World Book Day Books and 11 Easy, last-minute costumes you already have at home, here are 50 simple activities for schools this World Book Day.

Get creative

1. Instead of asking kids to dress up, get everyone to bring in an an old t-shirt or pillowcase and a book they have enjoyed and get them to decorate the t-shirt/pillowcase however they like, as long as it relates to the book.

2. As above but with a paper plate, potato, pebble, wooden spoon, shoe box, lolly stick, paper lantern or poster

3. Ask the children to research book quotes and make a display on the wall

4. Every class picks a book and they decorate the class door/room according to the book

5. Children have to redesign the cover for their favourite book

6. Show the class an illustration from a book (without reading the story) and then get the children to find 10 things they noticed in the illustration. World Book Day activity sheet here.

7. Ask the children to choose a character from a book and get them to write about the character, what they look like, what they're feeling etc. World Book Day activity sheet here.

8. Ask the children to design a bookmark and get the winning design printed.

9. Each class chooses a scene or a picture book (e.g. We're Going on a Bear Hunt) and then performs it.

10. Read a wordless picture book and get the class to tell the story

11. Read a short story or poem and get the class to draw a picture of what they imagined as you were reading.

12. Consequences writing game - everyone writes a line and then passes it on folding over the previous line so each new person can only see what the last line. Can be done between classes too (you may need to set rules ie no rude words or situations!)

Bring books into every lesson

13. In a Science class - make a George's Marvellous Medicine potion from this book of experiments or take a look at our books for British Science Week.

14. In a History class - research the historical time around a book's setting e.g. Letters from the Lighthouse by Emma Carroll or the Hetty Feather series by Jacqueline Wilson.

15. In a Geography class - choose a book and look at the environmental issues or the location. E.g. Swimming Against the Storm by Jess Butterworth.

16. In a Maths class you could use Oh, The Things You Can Count from 1-10 by Dr. Seuss for younger children or Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly about the four female African-American Mathematicians who helped Nasa launch men into space.

17. In a Music class, read a passage and then get the children to find a piece a music which matches the scene.

18. PSHE - check out our recommendations for mental healthblack history monthInternational Women's Day, books to read during anti-bullying week and books about the autism spectrum.

Show children that reading is something which can be done together

19. Ask children to come in in their pyjamas and bring a pillow and/or blanket and let them read their own book in comfort.

20. Set up a time when teachers and parents come in and read a page from their favourite children's book, whilst the kids sit in their pyjamas drinking hot chocolate and listening.

21. Join the World Book Day Share a Million Stories challenge and see how much you can read as a school between 27th Feb and 29th March.

22. Get the children to name as many books which have been made into films and then watch one together and discuss how it differs from the book.

23. Introduce D.E.A.R. time - Drop Everything and Read. The school bell goes off and everyone has to stop what they're doing and read for 10 mins.

Help children discover new books

24. Set up a 'reading cafe' with lots of new books for 'book tasting'. Set up tables with different types of books and encourage children to read a few pages and write their own 'taster notes' and note down any books they'd like to read in full. See an example here.

25. Ask the children to find one fiction book and then a non-fiction book which could be read alongside it. E.g. Dick King Smith's The Hodgeheg and then read this lovely non-fiction book about Hedgehogs by Jane McGuinness.

26. Blind Date with a Book. Wrap books in brown paper and write just three words which describe the book (without giving the book title or author) on the front e.g. mystery, adventure, illustrations

27. Print out the first line of some books and display them on the board. Open the quote up to reveal the book. See this on Twitter.

28. Get everyone in class to contribute to a discussion about "if you like...harry potter/wimpy kid/roald dahl" why not read... and create a display of the answers

29. If you have a screen, set up a Bookflix display

30. Run a book sale

31. Organise a visit to your local library or bookshop and talk about how to choose/find a book

Encourage children to recommend books to each other

32. Organise a book swap. Each child can bring in up to 5 books in good condition.

33. Get older kids to read to younger kids and vice versa

34. Put up a display in the library where children can add their favourite books on a post-it/whiteboard/blackboard

35. Get each class to bring in their favourite book and then go to the class below and tell them about their book and why they liked it. Could be as a presentation or in pairs. Voila you have a reading list for the next year!

36. Each class chooses a picture book and then writes a letter together explaining why they choose it. Can either be shared with another class within the school or you could pair up with a nearby school.

37. Get the children to choose any book and complete the sentence, "I like this book because..." (KS1 can be just 5 words, KS2+ can be longer) and then display the recommendations somewhere where they have to stand and wait (e.g. standing in the queue for lunch)

Raise money

38. Run a sponsored read with Readathon and you'll be supporting their incredible work getting books to children in hospitals.

39. Start a sponsored read with an Usborne Organiser and you can get new books for your school library.

Deep dive into a book/author/theme

40. Organise an author visit

41. Choose a particular author/illustrator and put up a display with facts, activity sheets and books. The World Book Day website has a free activity sheet on how to organise this.

42. Browse book videos online including trailers, authors reading extracts, book reviews and more.

Show that reading can be fun

43. Run a book-themed treasure hunt

44. Run a picture book World Cup tournament

45. Organise a book quiz

46. Play a game of book charades in class. Each child chooses a book and has to act it out using their body (including hands and facial expressions) but are not allowed to say a word.

47. Create a reading rockets competition where each week the class adds up how many pages they've read. The winning class wins 5 mins extra time in the playground/first to lunch/slice of pizza on a friday afternoon/their name in lights/a sweet from a jar.

48. Start a 'tower of books' and each time the class reaches a milestone, there's a class prize

Involve Staff

49. Staff act out a funny scene from a book in the school assembly 

50. Staff members take a photo of themselves holding their favourite children's book in front of their faces and children have to guess which book belongs to who OR staff share pictures of themselves as children and pictures of their favourite children's book and students have to match the photo with the book.

If you have done any of the above and would be happy to send us a photo you can you email it to us [email protected]

50 Simple World Book Day Ideas for Schools

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