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Jacqueline Wilson reads to animals for World Book Day


As children around the world prepare costumes depicting their favourite literature characters for World Book Day, acclaimed novelist Dame Jacqueline Wilson DBE instead dressed for quite a different occasion – a day getting muddy at Drusillas Zoo Park to read stories to their cutest animal residents!


The renowned novelist, famous for her best-selling children’s books, spent an afternoon with head keeper Gemma Romanis reading her iconic book – The Story of Tracey Beaker - to capybaras, lemurs, meerkats, monkeys, and sloths to inspire children to ‘read their own way’ ahead of World Book Day this week.

Jacqueline and her wife Trish were invited to take part in close encounters with some of the zoo’s friendliest and most curious animals, to feed them their favourite treats and read a few passages of the best-selling book.

Jacqueline seemed to have a natural way with the animals, with cheeky capybara baby Tango demanding cuddles, lemur Clementine happily settling down next to her, and meerkat Blossom sitting sweetly on her lap to listen to the story.

Head keeper Gemma commented: “What an honour to meet Jacqueline and invite her into our animal world! I grew up reading the Tracey Beaker books, and she definitely inspired a love of reading for me, so it’s wonderful with the help of Jacqueline to encourage other children to read by showing them that even our animals enjoy it.”


World Book Day 2024 will celebrate that children are more likely to enjoy reading when their choices are championed and we make reading fun.

“Education is one of our core values at Drusillas, and we design every inch of our zoo to spark curiosity about the natural world and engage children to learn in fun ways, so our animals always participate in World Book Day. But, this year was really special.”

“Reading to the animals is of course a fun way to take part in a worldwide celebration, but it also forms part of our daily enrichment programmes for our animals. Every day we introduce new and interesting objects, puzzles, and scents to stimulate their minds and keep them active, which helps to encourage natural behaviours. Although it just looks like fun, it also keeps our animals healthy and happy to let them explore something new – today it was the pages of a book and a new friend.”

Jacqueline signed four copies of her novel, which Drusillas Park will be giving away on their Facebook page on World Book Day – one of which is particularly unique as it was ‘nibbled by meerkats’ on the day.

Jacqueline’s novels have been notable for featuring realistic topics such as adoption and divorce without alienating her large readership. Since her debut novel in 1969, Wilson has written over 100 books.

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