We’ve all heard the expression “readers are leaders.” At BASIS International Schools, we strive to instill a love of reading in our students from our youngest learners, to high school seniors ready to embark on their university careers. World Book Day, observed each year on April 23rd since its founding by UNESCO in 1995, provides an excellent opportunity for our schools to include fun and engaging reading activities throughout all locations and grade levels.

Let’s take a look around the BASIS International Schools network at the wide variety of activities and initiatives utilized to instill a love of reading in every student.

BASIS Bilingual School Shenzhen

World Book Day activities spanned two weeks with a wide range of reading, sharing, and language activities. Early Years students visited the library for story time and to learn some basic manners to follow when in the library.

World Book Day Early Years library

Head of School Tom Davison showed his great support for the program by reading several classic works by Dr. Seuss–such as Green Eggs and Ham and The Fox in Socks to the primary students. During his readings, students interacted with Mr. Davison through role-playing and tongue twister challenges, which not only brought a lot of laughter, applause and cheers, but also further reinforced the language skills and acquisition the students have been learning.

Upper School students practiced their public speaking skills by sharing about their own favorite books, as well as creating beautiful posters to introduce their favorite books to everyone in the school community.

Teachers and students also dressed as their favorite book characters on April 23rd in honor of World Book Day.

BASIS International School Hangzhou

A week long schedule of events and activities was planned for the BASIS International School Hangzhou school community–and they did not disappoint. The main focus was on reading and books, encouraging students to immerse themselves in a variety of literature and genres. The goal for “Book Week” was for students to increase their connection with the text, and learn more about story structure, sequencing of events, and analysis of cause and effect.

Book Fair at BASIS International School Hangzhou

What was on the schedule? A weeklong book fair, book swap, library scavenger hunt, evening storytelling, and dress as your favorite book character day. All of these activities encouraged students to engage with reading in a wide variety of fun ways…and have so much fun they almost forget they’re learning!

BASIS International School Guangzhou

“This book changed my life” was the theme of a book recommendation event hosted by the school library team in honor of World Book Day. Fourteen teachers shared their reading experiences with our school community, and two Grade 1 students even contributed their favorite books as well!

Every one of the teachers and students recommending books shared about the genuine and wide ranging impacts a single book had in their life–from impacting one’s choice of career, changing perception of beauty in daily life, reflecting on history, to even one selection that reignited a child’s love of reading. Some books were published within the last 10 years, while others are as old as the 1800s.

Selections included:

Dune by Frank Herbert

“Reading Dune by Frank Herbert, I remember feeling as though a parallel universe with an entire history of its own had been conceived, and that I was being given a glimpse of it through the pages of the book. It was a greater and more profound sense of emersion than I had ever experienced reading science fiction in the past, or have since.”

– Andrew Taylor, English Language Arts Subject Expert Teacher

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

“John Steinbeck’s prose in East of Eden is lovely and memorable. I can still remember having to put my library copy down in awe. With a dash of Twain and Dickens, the American classic holds insight so astute and gorgeously written, that one almost needs a moment to pause after each sentence in order to treasure each word. I may still find myself perplexed by the human condition Steinbeck so poetically describes; however, I take joy in the author’s wordplay and the gentle lens through which the novel invites us to view our own lives.”

– Alison Kasko, English & Creative Writing Subject Expert Teacher

March trilogy by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and illustrated by Nate Powell

“The March trilogy that chronicles Senator John Lewis’s experience during the Civil Rights Movement is a book that recently moved me. I used this book to teach a complex subject to special needs students back when we lived in Chicago. It was the perfect way to bring a subject I am passionate about to life for my students. I am so grateful for all of Mr. Lewis’s sacrifices and for sharing his journey in such an accessible way for young people.”

– Ashley Ely, English & Humanities Subject Expert Teacher

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

“I was in the 7th grade when my English teacher left a copy of Jane Eyre on my desk with a note saying, “Read this–it will change your life.” How prophetic those words were! My teenage heart loved the simplicity of the plot where a boy meets a girl, they fall in love, they overcome an insurmountable obstacle, and then the happy ending. The gritty twists and turns that Bronte weaves into the story of Jane and Mr. Rochester are exquisitely agonizing, crafted in language that was so different to what I was used to. Jane, an intelligent, feisty woman who chose not to fit the stereotypical feminine role, became my inspiration and my muse. This novel turned me into a ferocious reader and indirectly steered me toward the career I chose. I fell in love with the classics and the rest is history.”

– Charlene Van Schalkwyk, Director of ELL

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

“As a tween growing up, carefree, I spent most of my days thinking about usual New Zealand girl stuff. Will my hockey team beat the visiting team this coming Saturday? What new ice skates could I buy for my birthday? My school was fun, and that was that. It was around this time that I read “The Diary of Anne Frank.” I was genuinely able to empathize with a girl who would have been the same as me, who had her freedom taken away from her. The Diary of Anne Frank was my first introduction to history. I had studied history across various grade levels and learned about numerous periods and events. However, I had never been able to feel history.

“The Diary of Anne Frank made me feel history.”

Nicole Sittie, Vice Head of Lower School

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

“‘A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.’

We can sometimes get overly bogged down in reading to acquire knowledge. It’s a great idea to let your hair down occasionally, I recommend a dabble into the funniest, most sidesplittingly hilarious science fiction book ever written. Inspired lunacy abounds on every page. It even has something to say about those who don’t like it:

‘Shee, you guys are so unhip it’s a wonder your bums don’t fall off.'”

– Phil Dust, AP Psychology Subject Expert Teacher

The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura

“The Book of Tea changed the way I look at ordinary things in our life and my understanding of the beautiful. I am not a big fan of tea. I read this book by chance several years ago. The author introduced a cup of tea to me in a very beautiful and captivating way. It helped me realize that a cup of tea is the cup of humanity. Here is m favorite quote in this book: ‘Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence. It inculcates purity and harmony, the mystery of mutual charity, the romanticism of the social order. It is essentially a worship of the imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life.”

– James Zhong, Librarian

Little Kids First Big Book of Why by Amy Shields

“My favorite book is Little Kids First Big Book of Why. Why does it help me? When I was little, I was a normal boy but knew almost nothing! Because of this book, I know a lot more about this world than before. It tells me everything, even why seeds grow. It makes me more into books. Books that you and me can explore more. And I love books now. When I was little, I didn’t like reading books. But thanks to this book, I started anew in the book world. It was exciting to come to this book world. I was so happy that I almost cried! Now I enjoy reading.”

– Alex W., Grade 1 student

A great book can connect with anyone of any age at any stage of their life–and stay with them for a lifetime. All of the activities our schools have held for World Book Day have served to share an important message with every member of our school communities: learn to read good books that stand the test of time, and keep reading for your entire life.

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