Firstly dear readers let me say that I am liable to sound a bit like a grumpy old woman here and for that you must forgive me, but the thing is I am a grumpy old woman and World Book Day winds me up!! There are many things about World Book Day that are fantastic namely the original premise of giving every child and young person a book of their own and a celebration of books and reading, but the money that gets spent and the perhaps wasted opportunity to really engage kids with books is a shame!
I love reading and have spent hundreds of happy hours being carried away by the words of authors. I have used books to help me relax, to help me sleep, for entertainment, as holiday pastimes and in the case of Harry Potter, to help a 20 something me escape the sadness of a break up. So I really do genuinely believe in the importance of engaging children with reading and I love the idea of dedicating a day at school to finding the fun in reading. This year at the kid’s school they will have an author coming in and will have loads fun sessions around books and reading. These ideas and many others that I have seen seem to me like they could make a difference. A child’s imagination could be captured by a book and perhaps a love of reading could be sparked. I have a very reluctant reader so I would be thrilled if this did ignite even an interest in him…. However, I feel like there is a problem with world book day.
All the focus is on dressing up
I feel that the real reasons for World Book Day even existing have gotten a bit lost. As with most things in this world it has become a commercial enterprise and I blame this on the dressing up element of the day. Why? Why do the children need to dress up? This part of world book day has our house in turmoil for a few reasons:
- One of the boys doesn’t like dressing up and so doesn’t want to do it and has poo poo’d every character suggestion, but he equally does not want to be the only child in the school not in costume as this would mean wearing his uniform. So that is issue number one; if you don’t enjoy dressing up and basically have to then this could in fact turn you off books.
- There have been lengthy debates about what everyone could be. I have been trying to encourage the children to go as characters from books they have read or that I have read to them, but no they don’t want to be Julian from the Famous Five or an Alien wearing underpants. They want to be characters from How to Train your Dragon – not an issue I hear you say, it is a book I hear you say. I know, but not one they have ever read or indeed that we own. They only want to be these characters because of the movies and TV show and discovered the happy coincidence that these stories are also books! If I am being kind I could think that perhaps this will then motivate them to read the books, but I don’t think it will. I don’t believe that dressing up, fun as it may be, has an impact on whether a child reads more, but I know it has an impact on my time and or bank balance!
- World Book Day has unfortunately been seized upon by every supermarket, delivery retail store and shop pretty much as an opportunity to make some money. It sort of feels like Valentines Day when you get ripped off left right and centre for flowers and cards. I think perhaps the idea of world book day has become completely overshadowed by children clamouring to get a great costume and frankly it can run out very expensive. To me this is a missed opportunity. If all the kids care about is what character they will be I think the point of the day might be missed.
- The pressure on parents. If your little lovely is desperate to be a certain character I really think that it is tough for a parent to say no. We never want to disappoint our children, but suppose you couldn’t afford that costume and couldn’t make it then I feel like parents would feel a pressure. Even if there isn’t that financial constraint I am fairly sure that most of us feel some level of stress or pressure to get the costume or make the costume. I don’t think this is in the spirit of the day and I for one feel like I have enough to do without this too!!
- The Environmental impact – this might sound a bit daft, but for example this year I ordered 4 costumes (see next point for why I didn’t make them) and I could only get two of the requested ones from the same shop. Therefore I had 3 separate deliveries. Three vans driving around to deliver my parcels. Multiply this by millions of other families who didn’t make or reuse across the 100 countries who mark the day and I am fairly sure there is an environmental impact.
- Time – this is my other issue with World Book Day. I know I don’t have to buy costumes I could make something. I could spend hours on pinterest trying to conceive how to fashion a toothless dragon costume out of a loo roll and some tissue paper, but I just don’t have the time. If I am honest I don’t have the creative talent either, but that is another issue!! With everything else that is going on everyday of the week in this busy household A Team style transformations of crap into magnificent masterpieces just isn’t going to happen which brings me back to throwing money at World Book Day!!
So on 7th March this year we will be sending Hiccup, Toothless (refusing to wear the mask so just a boy in an odd looking black onesie), Goldilocks and Red Riding Hood off to school. This reminds me that I still have to organise a basket for Red Riding Hood and a bowl for Goldilocks….
Much as I am moaning… in my heart I know I will be there with everyone else taking pictures. Hell I will probably even post them on instagram, but I promise to hate myself a bit inside for it 😉
There will no doubt be a tinge of regret that I threw cash at this and had amazon parcels flying everywhere in the name of World Book Day. Still I am not sure that could ever outweigh the relief I feel not having to Blue Peter a costume out of nothing!
I do promise though that when the kids get home from school that day we will start reading How to Train Your Dragon to make me feel like less of a hypocrite 🙂
So what do you think of World Book Day?
Do you think that it has a positive impact on your kid’s engagement with books and reading
Perhaps you agree that it is too much about the costumes?
I would love to hear your thoughts!