21 March 2024
An Open Letter to World Book Day UK

As members of the writing and publishing community, we support the mission of World Book Day to promote reading for pleasure. We believe all children should have the opportunity to read for pleasure and benefit from the improved life chances it brings.

This year, children in Palestine, Sudan, Congo and numerous other places around the world can not access books at all, let alone read for pleasure.

The current silence from World Book Day UK about the plight of these children is disappointing and feels incompatible with UNESCO’s vision for World Book Day to be a worldwide celebration of books that promotes reading for all.

We are also concerned by World Book Day UK’s decision to celebrate an event at Downing Street, when the British government do not fund World Book Day, nor have they been supportive of its mission ‘to see more children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, with a life-long habit of reading for pleasure’ - there are many children in the UK who are unable to access books as a result of government cuts to schools and libraries.

World Book Day UK is a charity that has done and is doing incredible work in promoting reading for pleasure and giving every child in the UK the opportunity to own a book of their own. We hope that World Book Day UK continues this work while raising its voice for all the oppressed children around the world who are currently unable to read for pleasure.

We call on World Book Day UK to make a statement of solidarity with these children, in the same way that it did for the children of Ukraine in 2022.

Update 27 March 2024

Next steps

I know many of us were disappointed by WBD's response yesterday.

The more optimistic hoped it might be a kind of holding statement while they consider making a statement, but many others felt it was a final response suggesting they will not.

This morning I sent this e-mail asking them to clarify:

Dear Cassie,

Thank you for your response. Would it be possible to get a little more information on this matter, for myself and the 500+ signatories?

It would be good to know if World Book Day UK are considering making a statement of solidarity or not, and if not the reasoning behind this.

As I am sure you can imagine, many people are confused and disappointed by the current stance of solidarity with some children, but not others.

Thank you in advance and best wishes,

Sophie Anderson

I will let you all know when I receive a response. In the meantime, please feel free to keep sharing the open letter, and hopefully hold on to the positive that so many of us have come together to voice our concerns.

"We need to be clear in our industry that ALL children matter. Our hearts are big enough for ALL of them." - Rashmi Sirdeshpande

Update 26 March 2024

Response from World Book Day UK

Dear Sophie,

Thank you for your email regarding the open letter to World Book Day. We appreciate you bringing it to our attention. Please be assured that World Book Day has read the letter and that our staff and Trustees are aware of it.

With all best wishes,


Cassie Chadderton

Chief Executive, World Book Day

531 verified
  1. Sophie Anderson, Author, Penrith
  2. Jo Arnold, Reviewer, The Little Literary Society, Buckinghamshire
  3. Alex Mullarky, Author, Edinburgh
  4. Radiya Hafiza, Author, London
  5. Tamsin Rosewell, Illustrator, Warwick
  6. Clare Pollard, Author, London
  7. Bryony Dorrans, Teacher, Abbey School, Torquay
  8. Clara Vulliamy, author-illustrator, London
  9. Zohra Nabi, Author, London
  10. Emma Carroll, Author, Somerset
  11. Cerrie Burnell, Author, Children’s author, London
  12. Emma Reynolds, Author-Illustrator, Manchester
  13. Lauren O’Hara, Illustrator, London
  14. James Nicol, Author, Yorkshire
  15. Dara McAnulty, Author, Cambridge
  16. Alexandra Sheppard, Author, London
  17. Danielle Jawando, Author, Manchester
  18. Gita Ralleigh, Author, London
  19. Hanan Issa, Writer, Cardiff
  20. Mireille Harper, Editorial Director and Author, London
491 more
verified signatures
  1. Chitra Soundararajan, Author, Author, London
  2. Farrah Akhtar, Literacy Trainer, Sound Training Ltd, Greater Manchester
  3. Chloe Seager, Literary Agent, Madeleine Milburn, London
  4. Lotte North, Teacher, Cumnor House Sussex, HAYWARDS HEATH
  5. Etzali Hernández, Writer, Glasgow, UK
  6. Patience Agbabi, Writer, Oxford Brookes University, GRAVESEND
  7. S K Perry, Writer, Leeds
  8. Sally Rainger, Ex teacher, Exeter
  9. Hafsah Aneela Bashir, Writer, Manchester
  10. Fio Trethewey, Writer, London
  11. Abdul Kadir Thadha, Managing Director, Sweet Cherry Publishing, Leicester
  12. Lesley Parr, author
  13. Abigail Balfe, Author and illustrator, Self employed, Brighton
  14. Phyllis Ramage, Librarian, London
  15. Josephine Lawrence, Writer, Self-Employed, London
  16. Sam Barnes, Bookseller, Oxford
  17. Nikki Bi, Beyond Books, Birmingham
  18. Cathy Lear, editor, Leicester
  19. Chris Duriez, Illustrator, Freelance, Edinburgh
  20. Will Johnson
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