Skip to main content
A child reading a book while wearing pilot's headgear

When is World Book Day 2024?

World Book Day is an annual event for schoolchildren to learn about reading, celebrate their favourite books and dress up as some of the most iconic literary characters.


World Book Day is one of the most anticipated days in the school year for children and one many parents would rather skip, but the history of the occasion is also really interesting. Beyond hours spent labouring over costumes, World Book Day is about promoting a love of books in children, and we can all get on board with that.

The values of World Book Day

World Book Day is about promoting a love of books around the world and is an opportunity to share our favourite stories. It began in April 1995, as a way to help children fall in love with reading and involved many charities donating books.

World Book Day was officially created by UNESCO in 1995 as the World Book & Copyright Day. It was traditionally celebrated on 23rd April as an opportunity to promote reading, publishing, and copyright. Very quickly it expanded beyond this and became a primarily school-led event where children get to share their love of books.

23rd April was chosen by UNESCO to honour the deaths of both Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare. We do things a little differently in the UK, as World Book Day was further promoted in 1998 during Tony Blair’s Labour government. It was first launched here in that year and was used as a tool to calm fears over poor reading, writing and literacy standards in British schools.

World Book Day in the UK

World Book Day in the UK came with a range of initiatives to push literacy and encourage children to enjoy books. The event partnered with National Book Tokens and handed £1 tokens to all schoolchildren across the country. There were also £1 World Book Day books published so children could spend their vouchers in one go or use them to contribute towards a more expensive purchase. As the years passed, more books have been made available at the £1 price, ensuring all children are able to find a book they want to read.

Beyond book tokens and literacy, World Book Day has morphed into a much larger event and most schools use it as an opportunity to get creative and let their imaginations run wild. Children are often asked to dress as their favourite character, in their pyjamas or even as a letter or a word. Schools also go all out with their range of activities, ensuring students have the opportunity to fully embrace the power of books, storytelling and more. Authors and illustrators often give talks and tour during this time too, adding even more fun to the event.

Every school has its own approach to World Book Day, and it is a chance for teachers and children to celebrate their favourite books and read together. Other activities may include making your own books, visits to the local library or book shop and much more. As the years pass, the celebrations seem to get more and more extravagant, with books at the centre and remaining the focus of all organised events.

When is World Book Day 2024?

World Book Day is not celebrated on 23rd April in the UK, as this date often falls during the Easter Holidays. Instead, the first Thursday in March is the chosen day for World Book Day here, ensuring as many children as possible will be in school and able to get involved with all the special events. World Book Day this year is on 7th March 2024.

History-inspired World Book Day costume ideas

Costumes make up a huge part of the World Book Day celebrations these days and finding a unique and fun costume is part of what gets children so enthused. Below are some great historical books you could consider turning into amazing costumes for your kids this year:

  • Horrible Histories: Terry Deary’s Horrible Histories cover absolutely every era so you can pick your favourite and dress your child as a Rotten Roman or Gorgeous Georgian.
  • King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table: Roger Lancelyn Green’s retelling of the ancient legend of Arthur and his knights leads to all manner of costumes from the classic medieval knight to queens and princesses.
  • Treasure Island: Getting hold of a pirate costume shouldn’t be too difficult and your child can emulate the dastardly pirates from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.
  • Goodnight, Mister Tom: Michelle Magorian’s novel is one of the most popular depicting evacuee life in 1940s Britain, and putting together an evacuee costume is straightforward enough. You may be able to get away with a flat cap and their school uniform!