Tag Archives: authors

World Book Day and School Author Visits

wbdSmall Every year I get requests to visit schools for World Book Day. Every year I get requests the week before when someone realises they were meant to organise something for World Book Day! I know the same often happens to other authors too. So, I thought I’d write this a memory jogger.

Next year World Book Day is on Thursday March 6th.

If you are planning on having an event the week of World Book Day, then now is the time to get planning and approaching authors and illustrators to see if they are free. Some are booked up at least a year in advance for World Book Day itself.

The easy way to avoid disappointment is to have an author visit at another time of year. Sometimes an author visit can get lost in the general kerfuffle of World Book Day, especially if you are having a dressing up day too. Dressing-up days and author visits don’t generally mix that well. Children are so hyped up with the dressing up that they find it hard to sit still and take anything in.

World book Day is about books, a product that education is slowly moving away from. Maybe that day is best spent considering the history of books and their relevance in a digital age. Deciding what a book does best and what is best delivered on a screen.

The act of writing, of being an author, of inventing and organising, storytelling and editing is relevant to both books and screens, and the lessons learned by authors, who all work in their own, individual way, can be passed on at any time of year, so maybe author visits shouldn’t be crammed into the first week of March every year?

For World Book Day, start planning now!

For a great author visit at any other time of year, without the added pressure of World Book Day, click here.

Why bother reading books or keeping libraries?

I just caught the end of an interview with Michael Rosen on breakfast TV this morning. He was asked why we should bother to read books now that reading is going over to Kindles and iPads.

He hesitated a moment, the same way I hesitated last week when asked for a quote by the Hereford Times, on wether I thought Libraries were important. I’d just been posing for photograhs in the new Garway School Library. I’d cut the ribbon to open it and was feeling full of the joys of spring.

“So, Mr Rayner, can you tell me why you think why books and libraries are important?”

…it’s so obvious that there isn’t a clear answer that doesn’t sound like a well-used soundbite that justifies keeping open expensive institutions. And as for books – who needs them when everything you need is all online for free?

There is something about a book. It is an object with a life of its own, unlike an electronic file that can be stored anywhere and easily corrupted. It takes time to make a book. If well edited, it is an accessible chunk of someone else’s brain. It’s a considered thing, with an obvious beginning, middle and end. It doesn’t flit about from page to page and the batteries never run out. It even works in candlelight. A book is the quickest way into the mind of another person. It’s a time machine. It is knowledge hard won by our forebears, hard won and easily lost. The book is a wonderful thing.

But I’d rather go to an online source for factual knowledge than an out of date encyclopaedia. The book is not everything.

But there is something about a book – it’s very physical presence – that lets you read the text in a one-to-one conversation with the author, in your own time, at your own pace. This doesn’t happen on the screen where all text is homogenised and links want you to jump about, leaving the considered argument half way. Electronic text looks and smells the same and is delivered within the same unit every time. Books have an extra life – a smell, texture, weight and age.

I don’t think the book will disappear. Printing a book lends authority to the author (that’s where the word comes from). Buying a book says something about who you are that is different to a browser history of links.

And what of Libraries? Without them, what are we as human beings? Without Libraries there would have been no civilisation. Now we have Libraries in abundance we feel we can afford to lose a few, but where do we stop? When the Barbarians are warming their hands on the burning books?