Happy Birthday Hans: How To Celebrate International Children's Book Day

Honor Hans Christian Andersen while encouraging young readers with enjoyable projects and activities.

By Dawn Dodson


Hans Christian Anderson

In honor of Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday, April 2nd is International Children’s Book Day. Organized by the International Board of Books for Young People (IBBY), the purpose of the day is to honor children’s literature, and to promote a love of reading. The inspiring and positive message this day brings provides an opportunity for classrooms and schools to celebrate the holiday in a variety of ways. From interactive bulletin boards to family reading nights, participating is as easy, and can be as inspiring for young readers as we choose.

Interactive Bulletin Boards

As a part of a classroom, interactive bulletin boards allow learners of all ages to contribute and participate with the content presented. Using International Children’s Book Day as the focus, readers can post their favorite books with a review to persuade others to read it. Similar to a Pinterest page, classmates may “repin” their own reviews after reading the books themselves. Another way in which to utilize this activity is to provide categories for students to post responses. Categories may include: characters, setting, descriptive language, etc. Responding to books read independently or in class, readers choose one or all categories to post a response. In either format, classmates are encouraged to read, write, discuss, and share books.  

Book Walk

This is a great activity for individual classrooms, a group of classrooms, or an entire building to participate in. Each person in the class, this can include the teacher, chooses his/her favorite book and creates a display providing information for potential readers. The displays can include a variety of particulars, such as author biography, plot summary, character and/or setting information, book reviews, and items that represent major theme(s) in the book. The displays themselves are colorful representations of the book with the purpose of attracting the attention of passersby. On the chosen day, each display is set up and pupils spend some time viewing the individual displays. Each person participating will have a sheet of paper to write down titles that interested him during the viewing time.

Family Reading Night

If you are looking for a community-wide event to commemorate International Children’s Book Day, planning a Family Reading Night is a fun way to involve students, their families, and the community. The event can include a guest author, illustrator, or a student group performance to begin the evening. Then stations may be constructed for children and their families to participate in reading activities. Refreshments and a book sale can round out the evening.

Battle of the Books

Another school-wide option to motivate kids to read is to participate in a reading competition. Whether a friendly competition is constructed within the school, or the school signs up in a national competition, the benefits should be identical. An example of a national competition is the Battle of the Books. It’s a competition that provides resources, booklists, and activity suggestions to create a competition. Participating schools sign up for membership and receive instructions needed to begin. It is important to note that there is a membership fee assessed.

Whether you choose to commemorate International Children’s Book Day with classroom activities, planning a school-wide event, or both, inspiring the love of reading and literature in your youth will benefit them this year, as well as for the rest of students' lives. 

More Lesson Ideas:

Altered Book Lessons

Pupils choose a discarded book to redesign. The lesson plan includes modifications for different grade levels and utilizes a variety of media resources.

Literature Biography Project

Young researchers use their skills to complete a biographical project on an author of their choice. Skills required include note taking, gathering and organizing research, and essay writing skills. A well-organized rubric is included with the lesson plan.

Make a Temple Book or Japanese Screen

A creative activity that gives learners the opportunity to create a book or stamp in order to document their experiences. The basic structure of this activity can be modified to fit a variety of documentation activities.

Language Arts Guide

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Dawn Dodson