Why we’re sharing a story this World Book Day

This Thursday (7 March), 570 Penguin Random House colleagues will be volunteering in schools and community settings in some of the most literacy-vulnerable parts of London and beyond. They'll be sharing the magic of reading with over 6,000 children, young people and vulnerable adults. We asked Felix, Maleka and Karen what they were particularly looking forward to...

A Penguin colleague reading to children on World Book Day


Felix, a World Book Day volunteer

Felix is a Contracts Executive based in our offices in The Strand, London. On World Book Day, he'll be running an audiobook bookclub in a prison library.

Why did you sign up to volunteer for World Book Day this year?

Working in the Contracts team, I don’t see as many books as my colleagues do in other departments, and it’s easy to forget the social value of the work that we – as book publishers – do. World Book Day is a great opportunity for everyone – especially non-editorial staff like me – to escape the office and see the immense power that books have in the real world – the power to entertain, inspire, provoke, excite and teach…

Did you volunteer last year? If so, how did you find it? What were your highlights?

On World Book Day last year, I waded through the Beast from the East to join a team of colleagues at a school in Poplar where we hosted a book quiz for a class of Year Fives. I was nervous and (more than a bit) sceptical at first – not least because I don’t spend a lot of time around ten-year olds. But it was great fun. It was moving, in fact, to see so many children (many of whom seemed just as sceptical as I was at the start) discover the fun of reading and debating the words with their friends as the quiz progressed, and to see their excitement when they were rewarded for their comprehension with free books. In the end, I wasn’t sure who enjoyed the quiz more – the kids, our celebrity reader, Jim Fitzpatrick MP, or us!

What will you be doing on the day?

This year, I’ll be doing something pretty different. I’ll be volunteering in a prison, leading an audio bookclub discussion about The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen. It’s a book that’s been on my to-be-read pile for a while, so this is a perfect opportunity to get started. And I can’t imagine a more exciting way into reading the book than at a bookclub with a group of strangers whose perspectives I’d never usually get to hear.  I can’t wait to see what happens; I have no idea what to expect. Is there a better bookclub setup than that?

What are you most looking forward to?

We’ll be taking lots of free copies of the book with us so that anyone at the prison who’s keen to continue reading the book after World Book Day can do so with their own personal copy. Reading shouldn’t have to end when our session ends. 

Why do you think it’s important to share our passion for books and reading with the local community?

Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you do, our message is that no one should be excluded from the world of reading, on World Book Day or any other day. As book publishers, it’s incumbent on us – we have a moral duty – to reach out to people in society who, for whatever reason, haven’t had the opportunity to discover reading. World Book Day is a powerful reminder that books are this important, inspiring and powerful every day, not just on one day a year in March. The power of books isn’t reserved – it’s universal. Every day is World Book Day.

Why are books and reading important to you?

Was it Ernest Hemingway who said that there’s no friend as loyal as a book? I’m not a Hemingway fan, but I don’t think I can give a better answer than that.

Tips for sharing stories with children


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Maleka, a World Book Day volunteer

Maleka is a HR Administrator, based in our offices in Ealing, London. On World Book Day, she'll be delivering a book quiz in a primary school.

Why did you sign up to volunteer for World Book Day this year?

I am relatively new to Penguin Random House and was really keen to get involved.

What will you be doing on the day?

I will be in a primary school presenting a quiz to children in Year 3 and 4, based on Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief.

What are you most looking forward to?

World Book Day was always my favourite event of the year at school. So being able to relive my youth and to share that with the kids is something I'm really excited about!

Why do you think it’s important to share our passion for books and reading with the local community?

It's important to share our passion for books and reading because books are a way to understand and get excited about the world we love in. If you are excited about something it means you care, and being able to channel that care into and through the local community is great!

Why are books and reading important to you?

Books are about sharing your experience. I've always been a reader. My fondest memories as a child were sitting and reading with my sisters or listening to audiobooks on long car journeys. Now my life is mostly made up of commuting to some place or another, so being able to get lost in a book on a two-hour-long commute is great - or alternatively catching a person reading the same book and breaking London train etiquette and actually talking about the book


Karen, a World Book Day volunteer

Karen is a Senior Credit Controller, based in our offices in Frating, Colchester. On World Book Day, she'll be storytelling at her granddaughter's nursery. 

Why did you sign up to volunteer for World Book Day this year?

My granddaughter, Bella,  inspired me to sign up for World Book Day. Although she’s only 21 months-old, she clearly enjoys me reading to her and is learning recognition from her picture books. So I’ll be visiting her nursery to read The Bumblebear

What are you most looking forward to?

I’ve had a quick read of the book and think the children will thoroughly enjoy making buzz noises and searching for pictures of Norman the Bear that I will hide around the room. It’s a lovely story of a bear who thinks he can disguise himself as a bee to get more honey - unfortunately he gets found out and gets thrown out of bee school - but it does have a happy ending! 

What are you most looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to helping the children make their own bee antennae and just being part of their day.

Why are books and reading important to you?

I’ve grown up around books as my dad worked for a book company when I was younger. I love to lose myself in a good book and I think it’s important that the younger generation should be encouraged to gain knowledge and enjoyment from books.

A photo of a DIY Percy Jackson costume on a yellow background - costume includes a t-shirt, jeans, trainers and a fake sword

Crafts & activities

3-step World Book Day costume hacks

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