World Book Day activity ideas to help you Share a Story

Reading for pleasure is on the decline, but World Book Day wants to change that, and we do too! These fun activities and ideas will inspire you and your little ones to share a story this World Book Day and beyond.

The people behind World Book Day are encouraging us all to share a million stories! Any story counts, from picture books to audiobooks to graphic novels, as long as it’s shared with a child for at least ten minutes. 

Research has shown that reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator for success in life, more than family circumstances, educational background or income. But reading for pleasure is on the decline, with Nielsen’s Understanding the Children’s Book Consumer Report 2018 showing that only 29% of children under thirteen read for pleasure daily, and fewer than 19% of children aged eight to ten are read to daily. 

Teacher and author Muhammad Khan says, ‘Every story is a little gift waiting to delight both the author and the reader so sharing them increases everybody’s joy! A story may act as a ticket to another world, a thrilling adrenalin rush, a secret to be shared among friends, or a promise of great things to come. We understand our past, present and future from stories as well as our place in the world. They bring joy, tears, empathy and compassion and help us make the world a better place.’ We think so too, so we’ve put together a selection of ideas for fun activities to help you share a story with children of all ages this World Book Day and beyond. 

Read more about the importance of sharing stories with children here.

World Book Day activity ideas for babies & toddlers

Picture books are a brilliant way to engage babies and toddlers in a story, and the more interactive they are, the better. Here are a few of our favourite picture books for babies and toddlers that you’ll end up reading together again and again. Visit your local library to discover lots more picture books for babies and toddlers which you can borrow - for free! 

Find your local library if you’re in England and Wales here, or in Scotland here.

The Jungle Book

by Campbell Books

Book cover for The Jungle Book

The push, pull and slide mechanisms and colourful illustrations in this First Stories edition of The Jungle Book will bring this classic children’s tale to life for babies and toddlers.

Squirty Fish Bath Book

by Campbell Books

Book cover for Squirty Fish Bath Book

Stories don’t just have to be for bedtime! Squirty Fish tells the fun rhyming story of animals in a pond and comes complete with a fun water squirter. Fully waterproof, safe and durable, this bath book will become a firm favourite in any household.

Discover the best books for babies and toddlers here. 


World Book Day activity ideas for children aged 3-5

Get creative with these Share a Story ideas for early readers.

Get creative with characters

Draw your own versions or colour in characters from your favourite stories as you read them together. Download these free printable colouring sheets, featuring woodland scenes and characters from Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s much-loved picture book The Gruffalo here.

Download more printable activity sheets for children here.

Put on a show

Get your child to choose a favourite story and act out your own version of it at home. Make finger puppets or masks out of paper plates or cereal box cardboard, raid your dressing up box for costumes, or simply choose funny voices for each part and take turns at playing the different characters from the story. All you need is a favourite story or picture book and your imaginations - the possibilities are endless! Why not put on a performance of What the Ladybird Heard with this special World Book Day story play?

The What the Ladybird Heard Play: World Book Day 2021

Book cover for The What the Ladybird Heard Play: World Book Day 2021

Illustrated by Lydia Monks

What the Ladybird Heard by Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks has been adapted into a special story play for World Book Day 2021 – so you can join in the fun!

Full of Lydia Monks's bright and distinctive illustrations, The What the Ladybird Heard Story Play has a page of hints and tips for how to perform the story, so little ones can put on their very own play featuring their favourite characters. 

Write a story together

Use simple prompts to create your own story and then read it together. You could ask your child questions about their day or a special day out to create an account from their memories. Alternatively, create a totally new story using easy prompts to begin, for example: ‘There was a brave girl called . . . , who lived in a . . . ’ or ‘Today I went to . . . , and I saw . . . ’ keep going until you’re happy that it is finished. Once your story is complete, why not get your child to illustrate it and create a comic strip or storyboard which you can keep and read together in the future.


World Book Day activity ideas for children aged 6-8

These Share a Story prompts are great for more independent readers.

Design a dog's tale

Show children this video from World Book Day author Frank Cottrell Boyce and illustrator Stephen Lenton for activity ideas inspired by their new book, The Great Rocket Robbery. The pair encourage children to design their own dog character (inspired by the book's star, Laika) and share their story with their family and friends.

Embark on an adventure together

The Great Rocket Robbery: World Book Day 2019

by Frank Cottrell-Boyce

Book cover for The Great Rocket Robbery: World Book Day 2019

Laika and her fellow dog friends are being trained up for a big adventure – a trip to the moon! But Laika can't wait, so she hatches a plan with her friends to get there all on her own . . . 

Memory games

Making a story funny is a surefire way to keep kids engaged, and this activity is great for groups of all sizes - or even just two people. Start with a simple memory prompt, for example ‘I went to the shop, and I put in my basket . . .' or ‘For my holiday I packed in my suitcase . . .’, and take it turns to add an item, start with A and try to get all the way to Z. Try and think of the silliest things you can for each letter - and to get all the way through the alphabet without forgetting anything! For some extra writing practice, get children to write down the completed story and add illustrations of the items you talked about.


World Book Day activity ideas for children aged 9-12

Let older children take their favourite stories further with these Share a Story activity ideas.


Set older children the challenge to reimagine their favourite story as though they were really there and then share it with you. They could write an eyewitness account of what happened, a newspaper article, or even make a short video or vlog about what they saw and who they met.  

Back and forth

Another excellent storytelling activity for groups of all sizes, this group writing exercise is bound to throw up some unique stories! Start with a blank piece of paper and a story prompt, and take it in turns to each write a sentence to keep the story going. The only rule is that you have to keep going until the page is full. Designate someone to read out the finished product at the end and discuss different ways that the story could have gone.


World Book Day takes place on 5th March 2020. For more information about the Share a Million Stories initiative, visit the World Book Day website.

Get more suggestions for how to get kids excited about reading, check out our top tips. ​