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What your World Book Day Character says about you

For World Book Day this year, Sport and Faith Coach John wanted to find out how young people link reading and sports together.

"Who is your World Book Day Character?

Over the last couple of weeks, many households have gone through the annual hunt for the perfect costume to wear for seemingly the most popular dress-up day of the year.

Would the choice help reveal something about the sportiness of the wearer? Would books about sports lead to an increase in interest in reading or indeed be inspirational in promoting sports? And finally, what do children think it says about sport in the Bible?

With the help of children throughout the Primary QuEST schools, I endeavoured to find out. 

What we did: 

Fifty children throughout the trust took part in a survey, where they were asked about World Book Day characters, and then asked to give their opinion on some of my old football novels that I read at their age, and other sports books I was able to find in their school libraries. They compared if they would have an impact on their motivation for reading or playing sport, and we finished by asking how sport was mentioned in the Bible. 

Starting points: 

Of the fifty children, 21 were girls and 29 boys. They were from both Key Stage 1 & 2 with an average age of just under 9 years old. 92% identified as sporty compared with 68% who would describe themselves as big readers. This was interesting for the fact that these children found it far easier to identify something about themselves that was sporty, with their feelings about their ability to read coming across as far more entrenched (this wasn’t just to impress their PE teacher!).

Character Studies: 

There were a range of categories that recurred in their costume choice. 22% of both boys and girls chose to dress as footballers based on real-life players. Lots of the comments pointed to role models being copied: “Obviously good at sport” and one even ran down Cristiano Ronaldo’s career as “Skills at Man Utd now goals, goals, goals!”

The next most popular were Harry Potter and Princess characters. Indeed almost all were identified as sporty apart from the Wimpy Kid or Vampire (the problem with the vampire was he was likely to be sent off for biting!). The princesses provided intriguing observations: “She wouldn’t be good at sport, because she couldn’t get her dress muddy,” and Cinderella who would likely lose her shoe. 

Reading or Sport 

For the impact of reading sports books, a definite pattern revealed itself. There were those with football enthusiasm, who were clearly excited by the sports books. “This will help me get better at football,” and “If you get me one about Ronaldo I would read it 100 times!”

Others separated reading and sports as activities. One particularly sporty boy observed “It's just not what I want to read about,” with others commenting that it would have little impact on their reading unless they were about more than just football. 

Sport & the Bible 

64% didn’t think that sport was mentioned in the Bible. One voiced this rather strongly: “Sport has nothing to do with God.”

Those who did think it was mentioned showed good lateral thinking from the stories they had heard in various assemblies. They mentioned stories such as Jesus walking in the desert or into Jerusalem as examples of physical activity. There would have been swimming when Jesus walked on water and “Baptism must have some swimming,” as well.

School has clearly had an impact on their thinking as many thought it might include that sport was good for you. Children at the top of the age range also made links between teaching from the Bible and expected behaviour: it teaches you “Sportsmanship, and not be unhumble or to boast.”

One football enthusiast thought the Bible might tell you about great footballers from the past like Zidane or Pele. If only there was a great role model hidden within its pages, who could inspire great feats for the next set of readers!"