Updated: Wednesday, 19th September 2018 @ 4:17pm

Readers celebrate World Book Day as Blue Peter broadcasts from University of Manchester

Readers celebrate World Book Day as Blue Peter broadcasts from University of Manchester

By Sam Reeves

Manchester is continuing to celebrate World Book Day in style this year, with book swaps, pirate costumes and monster making.

March 1 was World Book Day and literary events are continuing throughout this week.

The aim of the initiative is to encourage kids to explore the pleasures of reading in as noisy and fun a way as possible.

Children up to 18 are given a £1 book token to spend in participating bookshops across the country. Tokens can be used either to get money off a book or claim a free book, eight of which have been released specifically for the 2012 World Book Day.

Commentators have noted the increasing importance of World Book Day in the digital age. The Guardian commentator Kristina Chew said: “World Book Day allows children to reconnect with the magic of a book for free.

“In a time of decreasing sales for most bookshops, World Book Day is a welcome event.”

Organised by UNESCO, World Book Day is sure to inspire some young readers, with titles as diverse as Roald Dahl’s Fabulous Facts and Holly Webb’s Magic Molly, The Clever Little Kitten.

Webb herself is a big fan of World Book Day, calling it a ‘great scheme’.

Schools across Manchester were a riot of colour as pupils dressed up as their favourite fictional character. Fancy dress shops saw a run on their stock, with wizard costumes being most popular, closely followed by pirates.

Waterstones on Deansgate is hosting a Monster Activity Day on Saturday 3, based on Rebecca Gilpin’s arts and crafts bonanza Monster Things to Make and Do. There will be prizes for the best costumes made.  

WH Smith is also getting in on the act with Lisa Faulkner, winner of Celebrity MasterChef, spending her lunch-time signing her new book Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter on March 12. 

The Manchester Literature Festival launched a short story competition for prospective authors aged 12-16 around the theme of Future Manchester, which will undoubtedly produce some stirring stuff. Judging takes place on July 6 2012. The first prize is a pocket video camera.

Blue Peter was broadcast from the University of Manchester’s library yesterday, as homage to World Book Day, with presenter Helen Skelton flicking through a 500 year old edition of The Canterbury Tales.

As well as all the fun, World Book Day serves a very serious purpose. Literacy rates are far from perfect in the UK, as 622,000 students leave mainstream education each year without basic literacy skills.

According to TES, a teachers network, a further 1 in 6 struggle to read.

World Book Day tackles some of these issues, by getting kids from deprived backgrounds into reading.

You would have thought World Book Day would have book shop owners rubbing their hands with glee with all that generated trade, but that isn’t always the case.

Margaret Williams, who works at Thackeray’s Books, Denton, said:  “Usually people just collect their £1 books and leave.”

If you didn’t get to celebrate literature on World Book Day don’t panic. You haven’t missed all the fun as World Book Night takes place on April 23.