High-profile champions join authors and illustrators and millions of children as the nation gets behind Share a Story campaign


The Duchess of Cornwall and European Space Agency astronaut Tim Peake will lead celebrations today, 7th of March, as the reading for pleasure charity asks the nation to Share a Story on World Book Day.

Lauren Child, Malorie Blackman, Jeff Kinney and all 13 World Book Day authors and illustrators are joined by international bestselling authors including Cressida Cowell, Marian Keyes, Kate Mosse, Victoria Hislop, Holly Smale, Tracy Chevalier, Andrew Solomon and Esther Freud in their support of World Book Day’s Share a Story campaign on social media.

Book-loving public figures from pop legend Gary Barlow to the Queen of Shops Mary Portas, from Strictly Come Dancing star Anton du Beke to the the presenter and children’s author Dermot O’Leary, have also signed up as champions and will be sharing the stories that inspired them as children and post pictures of reading with children and young people, using the #ShareAStory hashtag, today. Yotam Ottolenghi, Bear Grylls, Humza Arshad, Stuart Turton, Tom Fletcher, Adam Weymouth and Muhammed Khan are on board, as millions of children will be visiting bookshops around the UK and Ireland to get their free book (or £1 – or €1.50 – off any full price book that takes their fancy), with more than 15 million book tokens given out this year.

In the light of new research published for World Book Day by the National Literacy Trust (NLT) – showing a decline in children’s reading for pleasure habits, and suggesting that this is in fact a trend – Kirsten Grant, Director of World Book Day, is asking parents and carers everywhere to put shared reading at the heart of their World Book Day activities: ‘Sit down for ten minutes on World Book Day, and every day – and share a story. It could make the biggest difference to our children’s future.’

To help kick off the #ShareaStory campaign on the day, ESA astronaut Tim Peake will share an inspirational video message, encouraging children to visit their local bookshop and exchange their World Book day token for a free World Book Day book.

The Duchess of Cornwall will visit a London primary school and meet the school’s ‘reading heroes’ today. Her Royal Highness will share one of the World Book Day books with the children and learn about all the World Book Day activity the students are engaging in, including sharing stories workshops with parents and carers.

Children across the country will be treated to special events featuring World Book Day authors and illustrators including Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Sibeal Pounder, Alex T. Smith, Abi Elphinstone and Rob Biddulph. Much-loved authors Malorie Blackman, Patrice Lawrence, and Waterstones Children’s Laureate Lauren Child, join world-renowned characters Wimpy Kid, Percy Jackson and LEGO® Minifigures on the 2019 list of World Book Day titles, which was created to appeal to the widest possible range of children and young people.

Lauren Child, Waterstones Children’s Laureate and author of Hubert Horatio, said: “Sharing stories is fundamental to who we are. It is how we make sense of the world and understand ourselves. A book can satisfy our curiosity, give us comfort or hope, escape and joy. Above all books remind us that we are not so different one from another.”

Working with the National Literacy Trust, World Book Day is bringing star-studded Share a Story Live events to communities across the UK where low levels of literacy are seriously impacting people’s lives, including Manchester, Dundee, Bradford and Swindon (See Notes to Editors). Celebrations will be rounded off at 7pm with a bedtime story from the cast of the RSC’s Matilda: The Musical. Viewers who tune in to the Roald Dahl Facebook channel will be able to watch a never-seen-before performance from the stars of the show, Mrs Phelps and Matilda, reading from the much beloved Roald Dahl book, celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

A wide-ranging coalition of family and consumer brands have come on board for World Book Day, spreading the Share a Story campaign across the country. The National Literacy Trust is collaborating with The Premier League and WHSmith to run pop-up bookshops in 45 football clubs across all the football leagues, and The National Trust are teaming up with Hachette to create a children’s discovery trail based around the Ten Little Bookworms £1 WBD book.

All Royal Mail post will be stamped with a World Book Day postmark on Thursday, and Clarks are running competitions to win World Book Day books. At 300 Marstons Pubs nationwide, children will eat free if they bring their favourite book on World Book Day. Other partners are Pizza Express, The Mall Group, Chiltern Railways, DFDS Seaways Ferries, Edison House Group, Wagamama, Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Asda, Tesco, Roald Dahl Story Company, Immediate Media and Egmont Magazines.

Hundreds of independent bookshops are delivering World Book Day to their communities, taking authors into schools, running events in store and external venues, and joining the joyful noise of a creative and innovative World Book Day in full swing. Bookshops are using more colourful and engaging materials than ever, all featuring the family of exclusive bookmark illustrations created by Rob Biddulph, World Book Day’s official illustrator for 2019. Each year, schools, libraries, bookshops creatively take part in World Book Day, to bring the Share a Story message and the joy of reading to children and young people across the UK and Ireland.

Alex de Berry, Managing Director, National Book Tokens, sponsor of World Book Day and the Share a Story campaign said:

“We’re immensely proud to be the sponsor of World Book Day’s Share a Story campaign and we’re fully committed to this important celebration of books, bookshops and sharing stories. More World Book Day book tokens than ever have been printed this year and we hope that as many children and young people as possible will visit their local bookshop and exchange it for one of the brilliant £1 books”

The publishing industry is leading by example to Share a Story in an unprecedented campaign that will see staff from across the industry venture into communities, celebrate the magic of reading, and take time out to Share a Story on World Book Day. Penguin Random House, Hachette, HarperCollins, Faber & Faber, Simon & Schuster, Pan Macmillan and Egmont Publishing are among the publishers that have joined the campaign, a World Book Day collaboration with the Publishers Association and the Booksellers Association.

For the first time this year, every HM prisons in England and Wales will receive free £1 books, with 20,000 books generously donated by publishers and distributed to prisons. Each year, schools, libraries, bookshops creatively take part in World Book Day, to bring the Share a Story message and the joy of reading to children and young people across the UK and Ireland.

Kirsten Grant, Director of World Book Day, said: ‘We know that a love of reading can transform a child’s future, helping them to do well at school, get a good job and live a happy and successful life. We are calling on parents and carers everywhere to put reading together at the heart of their World Book Day activities this year. Whether your children are dressed up today or not, sit down with them for ten minutes on World Book Day, and every day – and share a story. We all know how important it is to our children’s health to give them their five a day; and it’s just as important for their wellbeing to read with them for ten a day. Our ambition is to restore reading for pleasure as a celebrated national pastime for all.’

World Book Day 2019 £1 books.jpg

New research published for World Book Day by the National Literacy Trust reveals that significantly fewer children and young people say they enjoy reading or read daily outside class than last year. Worryingly, the new findings suggest that this decline is in fact a trend, with just over half (52.5%) of 8-18-year-olds reading for pleasure in 2019, down from 58.8% in 2016, and only a quarter (25.7%) reading daily, compared with 43% in 2015.

World Book Day reaches 15 million children and young people in 45,000 schools every year and, according to the National Literacy Trust’s new research, has the power to stem the downward trend in children’s reading practices and views. Children who took part in World Book Day last year were much more likely to enjoy reading than their peers (78.7% vs 56.1%) and twice as likely to read daily outside school (47.7% vs 24.1%). A third of children (34.5%) said they read more with their parents as a result of World Book Day, with half of those saying this encouraged them to read more independently.

Reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator of a child’s future success, more so than their family circumstances, their parents’ educational background or income. What’s more, research shows that parents reading with their child for as little as 10 minutes a day can make a significant difference to the child’s achievement levels and shared reading has the single biggest impact on a child’s independent reading habits.

Find more information, and join the conversation via:

worldbookday.com | @WorldBookDayUK

Notes to Editors

World Book Day’s #ShareAStory campaign:

Share a Story is the theme at the heart of a 3-year World Book Day campaign, sponsored by National Book Tokens, encouraging parents and carers to share stories with their children for ten minutes every day. Sharing stories together – anywhere, anytime – for just ten minutes a day has long-lasting effects on a child’s future. World Book Day aims to inspire new reading habits for adults and children, underlining just how important this shared time is.

The Duchess of Cornwall and the European Space Agency astronaut Tim Peake lead celebrations on World Book Day, and the reading for pleasure charity has signed up a host of public figures to support its Share a Story campaign on social media. Gary Barlow, Marian Keyes, Yotam Ottolenghi, Mary Portas, Humza Arshad, Victoria Hislop, Stuart Turton, Cressida Cowell, Tom Fletcher, Muhammed Khan and Anton du Beke and many others will champion the message on social media, sharing the stories that inspired them as children and posting pictures of reading with children and young people, using the #ShareAStory hashtag.

About Share a Story Live events:


7 March, Great Hall, University of Bradford

  • ANNA JAMES, Pages & Co: Tilly and the Bookwanderers (HarperCollins Children’s Books)

  • ONJALI Q. RAÚF, The Boy at the Back of the Class (Orion Children’s Books)

  • HUMZA ARSHAD, Little Badman and the Invasion of the Killer Aunties, by Humza Arshad and Henry White, illustrated by Alexi Bitskoff (Puffin)

  • DR JESS FRENCH, What A Waste: Rubbish, Recycling and Protecting our Planet (DK)


4 March, Wyvern Theatre, Swindon

  • Hosted by Steven Butler

  • HOLLY SMALE, The Valentines: Happy Girl Lucky (HarperCollins Children’s Books)

  • PAMELA BUTCHART, There’s a Yeti in the Playground (Baby Aliens), illustrated by Thomas Flintham (Nosy Crow)

  • FRANK COTTRELL-BOYCE (World Book Day 2019 author), The Great Rocket Robbery, illustrated by Steven Lenton (Macmillan)

  • MARTIN BROWN, Horrible Histories: 25th Anniversary Editions by Terry Deary, illustrated by Martin Brown (Scholastic)

  • CATHY CASSIDY, Sami’s Silver Lining (The Lost and Found Book Two), illustrated by Erin Keen (Puffin)


7 March, Manchester Airport

  • Hosted by Steven Butler

  • TOM FLETCHER, The Creakers, illustrated by Shane Devries (Puffin)

  • ROB BIDDULPH (World Book Day 2019 illustrator), Happy Hatchday (Dinosaur Juniors, Book 1) (HarperCollins Children’s Books)

  • CRESSIDA COWELL, The Wizards of Once: Twice Magic (Hodder Children’s Books)

  • ALEX T. SMITH (World Book Day 2019 author), Claude: Best in Show (Hodder Children’s Books)

  • ABI ELPHINSTONE (World Book Day 2019 author), Everdark (Simon & Schuster)


7 March, Whitehall Theatre, Dundee

  • SIBÉAL POUNDER (World Book Day 2019 author), Bad Mermaids Meet The Witches, illustrated by Jason Cockcroft and Laura Ellen Anderson (Bloomsbury)

  • STEVEN LENTON (illustrator of a World Book Day 2019 book), The Hundred and One Dalmatians: Cruella and Cadpig by Peter Bently (Egmont)

  • CATHERINE DOYLE, The Storm Keeper’s Island (Bloomsbury)

  • JOSEPH COELHO, A Year of Nature Poems, illustrated by Kelly Louise Judd (Wide Eyed Editions)

About World Book Day:

World Book Day is the registered charity behind the world’s biggest annual celebration of children’s books. It is dedicated to celebrating the benefits of reading for pleasure for everyone, everywhere – promoting the magic of books, the power of imagination and the importance of sharing stories. Designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, World Book Day is marked in over 100 countries around the globe.

It is sponsored by National Book Tokens and supported generously each year by the publishing industry, book trade, authors and illustrators. Every year, with a host of publishers and booksellers, World Book Day curates a list of bespoke £1 books for children and young people across the UK and Ireland. World Book Day’s mission is to encourage children and young people to explore the pleasures of books and reading by providing them with the opportunity to have a book of their own. To mark the day each year, children are welcomed into bookshops and supermarkets across the nation where they can redeem their £1 World Book Day book token (or equivalent €1.50 in Ireland) to redeem for a free World Book Day title or, if they prefer, they can use it to get £1 off any book or audiobook of their choice, costing £2.99 or more. The day also sees children bringing books to life through an array of organised events and activities in schools, bookshops, libraries and at home. www.worldbookday.com

About National Book Tokens:

National Book Tokens are the perfect gift for book lovers everywhere and are the only gift cards sold and accepted in bookshops across the UK and Ireland, including all the major chains and local independents. As proud sponsors of World Book Day, National Book Tokens supports lifelong learning and improving literacy and access to reading for everyone.


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