Usborne Day - everything great about children's publishing, in one publisher, on one day

We thought long and hard before getting involved in 'Usborne Day', a single day on Saturday October 5 to celebrate Usborne's 40th birthday. After all, trying to establish a random day of celebration can lead to the proverbial 'epic fail' (just ask Diageo) but in this case, the celebrations are entirely justified.

So this post is going to be unashamedly about Usborne and our special day of celebration this Saturday - including a rather special storytime. More of that in due course...

So, Usborne, a bona fide British success story. Driven by the unlikely figure of Peter Usborne, it was founded on those doughty British character traits of healthy subversiveness, a polite disrespect for the status quo, the British sense of humour and a proud history of children's publishing. Usborne have grown to be a world power, translated into over 100 languages worldwide, and most children's publishers would give the stickers from their activity books to have the reach and affection they command.

I mean, isn't this great? You go to visit Usborne's German website and see this:

Those Stephen Cartwright illustrations. The Little Yellow Duck (can you see it?). This must be what if feels like to be Mercedes or BMW ('Lesespass' means 'Reading Fun' in German incidentally - what a great word...)

A lot of this success can be put down directly to Peter himself - who (amongst many other things) was one of the founders of Private Eye. (If you are at all interested in the history of Usborne, take a look at this 40th anniversary video of Peter explaining how he started the company.). Peter's whole approach back in 1973 was to compete directly, not with other publishers, but with what he felt kids actually wanted to do in the home: read comics, magazines and watch telly.

Hence the design of the books themselves - bright, eyecatching and interactive in the genuine sense of firing up the imagination of the reader to go off and do stuff with the knowledge they've gained - and return for more.

And that's really the secret of Usborne, and it's the same answer you get from any head of any publishing house, once you strip aside the mission statements and marketing flim-flam - just publish good books...

So we are celebrating Usborne Day this Saturday, October 5, and we've tried to get creative, interactive and ensure everyone has a lot of fun. Here's what we're doing:
  • Children coming into the shop on Saturday will be asked to tell us their favourite book, and  - more importantly - their *perfect* book. We want children to get creative and imagine for us the kind of amazing book which they would love to read. It might be a mash-up of a favourite author or subject, it might be a magic book or one they can enter themselves. The sky's the limit - and we'll publish the best ones on the blog!
  • The first 25 entries on the day will win an instant prize of a bag of Usborne and other book-related goodies (Whilst stocks last. I think we've made up 25 bags, there might be 30 actually, we'll check)
  • Everyone will go into a draw to win £40 of age-appropriate Usborne Books (courtesy of Usborne). The competition will only run for this Saturday. We're not doing 'find the duck' again, we did that for several weeks over the Summer and over 150 children entered. This is just for one day! The winner will be announced at closing time on the Saturday!
  • There will be Usborne colouring to do in the children's room.
At 2pm, we have a very special guest arriving to do storytime in the shop. Local children's book review guru ReadItDaddy will be coming to the shop to read us some of his favourite stories, including a favourite Usborne tale.

The storytime is free, and everyone turning up will get entered into the draw as well.

So - we hope to see you on Saturday for some super celebrations!


  1. Anonymous10:17 am

    Crikey, that is the best'est news I have been hearing for one heck of a long time, and perhaps even a short time, too. Do you suppose The Crazymad Writer will be there, making a guest appearance?

  2. I don't think so! My gut feeling is the CrazyMad Writer will be too busy posting anonymously on lots of different blogs this weekend to come along. What do you think kids?

  3. Just like to say a huge thanks to the kids and parents who came along to see a very nervous ReadItDaddy read. It was brilliant fun! Fantastic kids joining in with the actions to "We're going on a Bear Hunt" and hopefully not cringing at some terrible silly voices while reading "Splat the Cat". Hope we get to do it again soon!

  4. We had a great time, thank you so much. We'll definitely do it again - that's the bet reading ever of 'We're Going On A Bear Hunt' I've ever seen - and I've seen a few!