Ways to Celebrate International Children’s Book Day in the Classroom

Ready, set, read! Are you looking for a great event to encourage families and children to get involved with reading? Then get ready for International Children’s Book Day (ICBD), held every year on April 2!

This worldwide celebration aims to promote literacy and inspire reading to—and with—young children. Every year, teachers celebrate this day to remind families and children of the importance of reading.

What is International Children’s Book Day?

International Children’s Book Day was first celebrated in 1966. It was organized by Jella Lepman, founder of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), and it is designed to encourage families, teachers, and children around the world to participate in reading events in their local communities.

Every year, a different international section of IBBY hosts a children’s books event on or around April 2 (which is the birthday of classic children’s book author Hans Christian Andersen). The host country picks a theme and invites a well-known author and illustrator to create a message for children around the world.

In 2022, Canada is hosting International Children’s Book Day with this chosen theme: “Stories are wings that help you soar every day.”

10 Classroom Reading Activities to Celebrate International Children’s Book Day

International Children’s Book Day is a great way to encourage reading in the classroom. If you’re looking for classroom activities to accompany your next read-aloud, use one of these 10 free reading guides from Waterford.org for popular children’s books.
Many are guides for award-winning, well-known books that you may be able to borrow from your school or local library. Every guide is full of activities that are a good fit for elementary school readers. A grade level is suggested for each one.

Reading Guides for Third Grade


Hope Solo: My Story—Class Activities

This nonfiction chapter book is an adaptation of Olympic medal-winning soccer player Hope Solo’s memoir for young readers. While you read the book with your class, use the reading guide activities to practice narrative writing, fluent reading, and classroom discussions.

The One and Only Ivan—Class Activities

This middle-grade fiction book follows Ivan, a gorilla who lives in an exhibit where he isn’t taken care of like he should be. When he meets a baby elephant named Ruby, he begins to think about the world outside of his exhibit. With this reading guide, you can practice learning vocabulary words through context with your students.

Satch and Me—Class Activities

If you have students who love sports, you may want to read Satch and Me—a chapter book about a boy who magically travels back in time to see Satchel Paige play—and learn all about the famous baseball player. Plus, you can practice literacy skills like reading with expressions along the way.

Ella Enchanted—Class Activities

In this Cinderella retelling, a girl under a fairy’s curse finds a way to finally stand up for herself. Together, your students can learn reading fluency strategies and communication skills with this accompanying reading guide.

Reading Guides for Fourth Grade

Bud, Not Buddy—Class Activities

After his mother passes away, 10-year-old Bud sets out in search of a famous jazz band during the Great Depression. Using the reading guide companion, you can teach your students grammar skills like punctuation.

Wonder—Class Activities

Fifth-grader August, who has Treacher Collins syndrome, has mixed feelings about his first day of school. Together, August and his classmates learn what it means to be a friend and how to stand up to bullying. While you’re reading as a class, use this free reading guide to teach grammar and reading comprehension skills.

One Thousand Paper Cranes—Class Activities

This biography for younger readers shares the story of Sadako Sasaki, a young girl who suffered a serious illness as a result of the bombing of Hiroshima. With this reading guide, your students can learn about Sadako Sasaki’s legacy and the Children’s Peace Statue in Japan.

Eight Keys—Class Activities

When best friends Elise and Franklin start middle school, both of them feel lonely and like they don’t fit in anywhere. But when Elise uncovers a strange key in her home, she and Franklin work to unravel a series of family secrets together. The Eight Keys reading guide is full of activities that will help young readers practice reading out loud, discuss short reading passages, and share their opinions with the class.

Reading Guides for Fifth Grade

One Crazy Summer—Class Activities

During the summer of 1968, 11-year-old Delphine and her sisters are sent to stay with their mother, Cecile, in California. In this Newbery Honor book, the siblings explore why Cecile left their father, who raised the children as a single parent. Using this accompanying reading guide, you can teach foundational skills like partner reading and writing opinions with plenty of engaging activities.

Inside Out and Back Again—Class Activities

Following the Fall of Saigon in 1975, Hà and her family fled Vietnam and became refugees in the United States. In this novel written in verse, Hà mourns the friends and traditions she left behind while adjusting to life in a new country. While you read, use this reading guide to practice analyzing point of view and themes in a story.

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