I shouldn’t be remotely snarky about the UK World Book Day, perhaps. After all, any initiative that promotes books and reading in a country whose literacy and reading levels besmirch its cultural and economic status is welcome.
“Thanks to National Book Tokens and lots of lovely book publishers and booksellers, World Book Day, in partnership with schools all over the country, will be distributing more than 14 million £1 World Book Day book tokens to children (that’s almost one for every child/young person under 18 in the UK and Ireland),” says the site. Fine, but why not books for adults? And how come all the other initiatives I can find right now for World Book Day are targeted at children?
Fine, this may be outside World Book Day’s specific remit, but fact remains that the best way to foster reading habits in kids is likely through their parents. Studies have proved this time and again. And until something serious is done about English attitudes to reading, literacy, and education in general – if it can be done – World Book Day in the UK context is more a matter of shuffling the deckchairs on the Titanic sinking island. Couldn’t World Book Day be used as a platform for that – to remind UK parents that by not encouraging their kids to read, they’re damaging their minds, their future, their class, and their country?
And that’s without even touching on the fact that World Book Day’s parent event, UNESCO’s World Book and Copyright Day, is celebrated as “… and Copyright Day,” which has the effrontery to link Malala Yousafzai’s suffering to Big Media’s copyright land grabs. At least the UK World Book Day doesn’t sink that low. No events for schools on the joys of 125-year copyright terms or the contributions that Sonny Bono has made to world civilization. Some publishers must be pissed.