Questions on World Book Day with Dr B.J. Woodstein

Thursday 7th March

On 7 March 2024, people in the UK will be celebrating World Book Day. While some view the holiday as just a chance to dress up as their favourite character, in fact this is an important occasion run by a charity with the aim of encouraging people from all backgrounds and educational levels to read. Many schools and some workplaces use World Book Day as an opportunity to talk about literature and literacy more broadly. PILAA Research Associate Dr B.J. Woodstein is especially keen on World Book Day, so we asked her a few questions about it:

Q: B.J., what does World Book Day mean to you?

A: I love reading, and I also work as a writer and translator, so I absolutely believe in the importance of books. Some people might call me idealistic, but I truly think that if people read more, we’d have fewer problems in the world. If you read books about people from different cultures, religions and backgrounds than you have, you’ll learn about them, and they won’t feel as “other”. You’ll realise that actually we have more in common than we think. We’ll be slower to judge and to be prejudiced. From an EDI perspective, that is hugely beneficial. We should all read books about as many different types of people as we can. It’s educational and pleasurable at the same time.

Q: Can you say something about your work as a translator?

A: I translate from the Scandinavian languages, mostly Swedish, to English. I’m especially passionate about working on children’s literature, but I also translate adult literature, non-fiction, academic books, cookbooks and more. I’ve learned over time that people write differently and about different subjects in different languages, and I think translation is important because it enables us to bring new ideas and perspectives across into other languages. We’d be in a constricted echo-chamber if we only were able to read books in one or two languages. And think about how many great works of literature we’d miss out on! I’m privileged to be able to make Swedish literature available to audiences outside Sweden.

Q: How will you be celebrating World Book Day?

A: I have young children, so we’ll definitely be doing costumes. At the moment, one of my children is planning to dress up as a favourite character from Swedish lit, and the other has a Victorian-style costume to reflect a book that she really enjoyed. We read every day in our household as it is, but I expect that on 7 March, we’ll do some extra chatting about books and some shared reading. Storytime is one of the best parts of the day for us! I encourage everyone to read aloud, whether to kids, elderly relatives, partners or friends. It’s wonderful having that shared reading experience together.

To find out more about PILAA Research Associate Dr B.J. Woodstein, view her bio here and if you would like to work with her on your next project, get in touch with us!