World Book Day 2023
I’ve left the cinema many a time to the tune of "the book was better" more often than not unable to comment and mostly feeling thankful that a film had been made (especially when Baz Luhrmann went and released Romeo & Juliet in time for my English exams, what a legend - THANK YOU BAZ!).
As text grew more densely packed, I haven't enjoyed digesting information through written words. Once pictures were overtaken by text at age 8 or 9, I became increasingly reluctant to read, though I was very fortunate to be read to.
Quiet reading, or an enforced library visit was a least favourite part of school. Plus, often preferring to travel by cartwheel than walk, sitting still felt quite frankly, very dull. Yet I found fun aplenty and felt at home with a Roald Dahl book, Matilda was my go-to. With hindsight it seemed ironic that I hated to read but loved a book about a girl who loved to read. His words never felt too word-like somehow and it was such a relief.
My teachers soon realised that I had Matilda on loop and made me seek out other books. I can see why. But scrolling the shelves felt akin to doomscrolling on Netflix before you give up in favour of an early night due to the uninspired overwhelm. If I did manage to pick something to take something out, at best I'd crawl through a few pages before it blended into my bedside table. I’d dread the sheepish return of my overdue books to the library unsure whether the correct protocol from there was a faux renewal, pretending I might actually read it or to just admit defeat and give it back.
Once I’d left education, I created a life with a minimal need for text in it. Trading it wherever possible for sport, anything visual and lots of adventure. And for a while, I had exactly that. So I’m sure that reading this, you can imagine that I never really set out to create books of my own. So to be invited to give a school assembly on World Book Day this year feels funny, joyfully funny though. It is also SUCH a massive honour.
I decided to create some bookmarks as a gift for the children next week. As I was designing them, I looked for some illustrations featuring books. To my amusement, I had so many!! For an self proclaimed book-avoider, I draw them all the time! I realised that with no pressure to read, I actually LOVE the vibe of a library, or a small book shop, I love the magic of stories and the impact that they can have. It's all so much more than letters on a page, it's a little portal into a magical world. How fabulous!
So while hugely honoured to share my accidentally created books next week, I also feel keen to encourage that I don't think it matters how stories come into your life, or how you consume them. Perhaps books are a bit like a Tupperware for stories, safely contained, portable and stackable, but their literary magic is a gem of inspiration ready to roam free in beautiful ways and to be explored however makes you smile.
And there's always the option of letting your mind wander and imagining your very own stories... You might accidentally make a book too.
I also share this today, not only because of World Book Day next week, but because I recently had this reply when I mentioned it on Instagram so I really hope this might help any other children (or parents of children) who feel a bit allergic to words on a page, perhaps also more inclined to daydream and wriggle:
If you'd like to find more about my books, you can find them here. Although they appear to be children's books, I have a large adult readership - perhaps akin to a Charlie Mackesy ageless audience. I have self published my books in small batches, beautifully printed in the UK and shipped to you gift wrapped. I can ship worldwide and they'll be sent to you tracked for peace of mind.