Lucy Mangan on World Book Day, Reading Books & Library Closures - Lucy Mangan - Stylist Magazine

Lucy Managan On World Book Day

I have... a disproportionate love for World Book Day (7 March), especially the element that sees children being given free books and vouchers and taking part in events that introduce them to the strange, square-ish papery things that adults seem to turn to even, occasionally, when the internet is still working. Plus they might gain their first glimmering insight into what the alchemical translation of marks on a page into language, ideas and stories can give them. I feel that if I stood in the right place at the right time of day when the wind was blowing in the right direction, I would hear the sound of seeds being scattered, taking root and giving rise to the next generation of readers.

That's why I have to bury myself in books, you see. You can't go around saying this kind of stuff out loud.

But World Book Day takes on a degree of both poignancy and urgency this year. Because this time it comes in the wake of over 200 library closures (plus another, uncountable figure who will eventually be holed beneath the waterline by cuts in their budgets, staffing, opening hours) and just before a further round of cuts that will jeopardise the remainder (along with the NHS, legal aid, housing, disability benefits and anything else you might feasibly consider it a civilised society's duty to maintain).

If I hadn't been a reader, I wouldn't know anything, much. I wouldn't know a good sentence from a bad one or how to construct an intelligible one of my own. I wouldn't have half the vocabulary I do, which has enabled me over the years to write persuasive letters to potential employers, cover gaps in my knowledge with semantic flourishes (hello history GCSE! I've never forgotten you) and, of course, earn a living in one of the nicest ways possible short of being a marshmallow shop owner who breeds kittens.