Hair raising

26th January 2001 at 00:00
A change of date means World Book Day will be earlier this year. It's been brought forward from the traditional date, April 23 (Shakespeare's birthday), to March 1, because of the Easter holiday. Four standard children's books will be specially re-jacketed with pound;1 price marks, replacing the Children's Book of Books, produced for the past three years. Three of these are relevant for primary schools: The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (ages three to five); Little Wolf's Postbag by Ian Whybrow and Tony Ross (five to nine); and Cloud Wolf by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell (eight to 12).

Bookshops will run a major promotion of World Book Day Super Reads; find the list in your organisers' pack. A chain of "happy hour" reading events is being drawn up across the country, to carry the event forward "from milkmen in the morning to clubbers in the midnight hour" (a reminder that World Book Day is not only for children). You could programme your own book day, with "happy hour" events throughout the school from Reception to Y6, or from one part of the building to another.

Another theme is about customary, desired or secret reading places. Libraries are planning tie-in events for this, and your school library could do the same. Do an advance poll in school, asking "Where would you like to get caught reading? Where do you usually get caught reading?" and display some of th responses on the day. Check the authorfile sections on the ACHUKA website www.achuka. to see how different writers and illustrators have responded to "My ideal reading position isI" The change of date may be an advantage. In our school, we had already planned a "Mad March Hair Day" for March 1. Mad Hair Days are increasingly popular as an alternative to a mufti day - in return for a small donation to a charity, children can come to school on that day with coloured hair, funny hairstyles or dressed in wigs. So now we are thinking of all those "hairy" book connections that will help turn the day into "Mad March World Book Hair Day". There are plenty of versions of Rapunzel for pupils to compare. And there's the E Nesbit story Melisande (Walker Books), about a princess who grows up bald as the result of an evil curse, and then faces another set of problems when her wish for golden hair is fulfilled. Shoo Rayner's The Ginger Ninja (Hodder Children's Books) was inspired by a Radio 4 Woman's Hour item about red hair. In a similar vein, a Mad March Hare event might entail pupils dressing up as characters from Alice in Wonderland.

Here are two school websites featuring mad hair days: mad_hair_day.htm (Rectory CE primary school, Wigan); www.fernfirst.dorset.sch.ukmadhairday.htm (Ferndown first school, Dorset).

Michael Thorn

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